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BC may train fewer midwives without more funding

Without increased funding, British Columbia's only midwifery training program may not accept new students next year.

“Despite more than a hundred applicants, the program only admits ten new students each year, while demand for these birthing professionals is growing,” New Democratic Party advanced education critic Dawn Black said in the legislature.

The program at the University of British Columbia is in a “dire funding crunch” and has warned students it may not be able to take new students next year, she said on a day when a few dozen midwifery students and midwives protested outside the legislature.

“There have been no funding cuts and no reduction to the funding of this program,” said advanced education minister Moira Stilwell. “The funding is unchanged, and the ministry's expectations are unchanged. This program is funded by the province to the tune of more than $600,000 a year in annual operating costs, and I am confident that UBC will continue to deliver the program as per our agreement.”

The program has had the same funding since it started with four students in 2004, said UBC dean of medicine Gavin Stuart in a phone interview. It has grown to 10 students in each year of the four-year program, or 40 students in total, he said.

“That's the challenge we've had to the sustainability of this program,” he said. “Everybody, including the ministry, has been committed to looking upwards, downwards and sideways to see how we can make this work.”

The university wants to continue the program without reducing it, he said, but felt it was fair to warn students that it may not be able to admit as many students next year.

Andrew MacLeod is The Tyee’s Legislative Bureau Chief in Victoria. Reach him here.

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