From Susana Rutherford on the impact of lack of reproduction options on PEI:
Hon. Minister of Health Doug Currie
PO Box 2000
105 Rochford Street,
Cc:Premier Robert Ghiz, Joyce England (PEI Midwives Assoc.), Jane Ledwell (ACSW), Sarah Roach-Lewis (Women’s Network), Diane Boswell (Reproductive Care Co-ordinator) Dr. Richard Wedge ( Acting CEO Health PEI)
I wish to begin this letter by clarifying that I am writing to you as an individual. While I have had a long association with BORN Co-operative ( Birth Options Resource Network) the following opinions are my own and are not a representation of that group.
I wish to express my sincere and deep disappointment with the lack of action on the part of the government of PEI to address the lack of services and options for birthing women in PEI. The Government of PEI has expressed a desire to create cost saving measures for PEI while keeping our health care system strong and yet they have failed to take any concrete action to implement a change that would address these issues. Changes that virtually every other province and territory in Canada have successfully adopted.
I strongly believe that PEI should be doing everything in it’s power to attract growing families to PEI. Parents are productive members of societies and an economic force. The economic needs of child rearing encourage parents to find and keep employment. The needs of growing families create a period in which families consume goods and services at a prodigious rate. This is known to anyone who has ever taken a business education. This is all at a period where largely family members are young and healthy and draw lightly on the public purse in terms of health care. So it is clear that the maintaining a healthy ratio between ages in our population is important.
There are two ways in which these productive families might arrive in PEI, thru the natural stages of life for our Islanders and through immigration from other parts of Canada and the globe. Imagine a PEI where Health PEI provided an environment that was so attractive to young families that they might choose to come or stay in PEI based on the services PEI offered. I can personally attest that every year BORN received communications from women who chose not to move or return to PEI based on our lack of birthing options. We also have received news of women who chose to leave PEI to birth their children.
Yet the PEI Goverment fails to take any concrete action to implement Midwifery services, in spite of economic studies that prove that Midwifery is cost effective, in spite of a feasibility study that supports the idea with third party research that women and families on PEI want a birthing center. While virtually every other province in Canada has rolled out successful Midwifery programs PEI continues to bemoan our falling birth rate while seemingly failing to see the connection.
Women are very important decision makers in choosing where families reside. Women are very serious about the level of care they receive during pregnancy.
Currently PEI’s Health care system is failing women in a number of ways, a lack of commitment to Midwifery is not the only shortcoming of our current system.
Women are not supported enough in their efforts to become pregnant with PEI reducing the subsidies toward infertility treatments and failing to pay for even one IVF treatment which is fully or partially covered in other provinces. While the cost of IVF is high the province would be more than repaid dollar for dollar in just a few years as families with children contribute to the economy.
Pregnant women and women with gynecological issues must compete for the time of the OB’s and doctors that we have. While I have every confidence in the skills and training of these practitioners the current direction of Health PEI to add prenatal care to the roster of our General Practitioners seems to me to be borrowing from Peter to pay Paul as the majority of GPs are already struggling with heavy case loads and we continue to have great difficulty in retaining them.
Women and their families are in no way supported in their choice of birth place or caregiver as PEI only offers one option for births. There are myriad good reasons to keep healthy women and their babies out of hospitals. Control of disease, shorter stays and low cost are all benefits of both Birthing Centers and home births. The bricks and mortar cost of a Birthing Center can be comparatively low as existing health centers, office space or residential housing can all be cheaply converted.
Finally is may surprise you as it did me that the largest group of women seeking abortion services in Canada are women who already have children and feel that they cannot economically or socially support more children. While the thrust of my letter supports increasing our birth rate I do not think forcing low income families to bear unplanned children will benefit anyone in the long run. What your Goverment has perpetuated in failing to provide access to abortion is a situation where the most vulnerable citizens fail to have access to a most basic way of limiting family size. In economic terms alone this a poor use of resources. It is disingenuous to suggest more practitioners need to be hired to provide this service when OB’s/Gyns already preform D&C’s for other reasons.
It has been oft stated that where there is no solution there is no problem. However in this case there are easy and cost effective solutions.
Implement reciprocal legislation that allows Midwives to work with insurance on PEI, the Canadian Association of Midwives has repeatedly offered to come to PEI to help with this, and yet your current Government claims to lack information on how to implement this (insert joke about god helping those that help themselves here). Create a Birthing Center with both infertility and Midwifery Services offered. Quebec has some great models of Birthing Centers is a variety of settings. These Birthing Centers are so successful there are waiting lists for clients wanting to use them. Imagine an Island where women would choose to move to PEI based on the variety and level of care offered for birthing women. This is a solid long term revenue raising idea that offers a much healthier way of adding to tax bases than selling more alcohol or encouraging gamblers.
Create a climate where practitioners can offer safe, timely and private access to abortion by changing the climate in the Health Care system to accept this practice on PEI by those practitioners willing to do so.
In summation there is a opportunity here to make small changes with huge long term impact for the Island. You can attract young families, welcome young Islanders back to the Island and retain immigrant families with a positive pro-family policy.
While I don’t agree with everything Susana says (I am quite against home births), she does point out some of gaps in PEI health care.