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Legalized, regulated, but unfunded: midwifery's laborious professionalization in Alberta, Canada, 1975-99

Legalized, regulated, but unfunded: midwifery's laborious professionalization in Alberta, Canada, 1975-99

Social science & medicine (1982)Soc.Sci.Med., Volume 53, Issue 4, England, p.531 - 542 (2001)
Journal Article
Abstract

In 1992, Alberta became the second Canadian province to legalize midwifery. This happened even though there were only approximately 20 midwives in practice at the time, and despite strong opposition from the medical and nursing professions. Between 1992 and 1999. Alberta established a regulatory framework for midwifery as a profession but. unlike Ontario and British Columbia, failed to pay midwives out of the provincial health care budget. This sent midwifery in Alberta into a crisis as many midwives closed their practices. This article first considers why midwifery was legalized and then professionalized in Alberta. Our answer emphasizes the leading role of state health bureaucrats in promoting midwifery as part of the state's challenge to medical dominance. Second. the article addresses why midwifery received so little governmental support at the same time that it attained professional status. This analysis includes a comparison with how midwifery developed in Ontario and British Columbia. Our conclusion is that midwifery in Alberta became a victim in the post-1993 period when a new Right government set aside bureaucratic initiatives in health care and committed itself to major cuts in government spending.

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