moved that the bill be now read the third time and passed.
Mr. Speaker, I have the honour to be in the House today to debate my Bill C-608, the National Day of the Midwife Act.
This has been quite the saga. I am extremely proud that all parties in the House voted unanimously at second reading to send the bill to committee. That was good teamwork, and it is wonderful to see that our Parliament can function and that we can work together on great bills such as the one to establish a national day of the midwife.
First of all, I must thank my colleague from Parkdale—High Park, because in the beginning, she was the one who decided to introduce this bill in the House of Commons. She brought forward the first version and began the debate with members of other parties in the House—Conservatives, Liberals and independents—and with experts and the people directly affected, the midwifery associations. I must commend the work done by my colleague from Parkdale—High Park, because she does not take much credit for it. However, because of her groundwork, today we are talking about a national day of the midwife.
I would like to provide a bit of background, because it shows that MPs are very good at doing the groundwork, representing their constituents and bringing their ideas to Parliament. When my colleague was going door to door, she met a woman belonging to a midwifery association who told her about the important work midwives do. She told the member for Parkdale—High Park about their intentions and the fact that midwifery was not yet recognized in every Canadian province and territory, but that they were working on it.
Canadian universities have some of the best midwifery training programs in the world. We can also be proud of that. There are currently 1,300 midwives in Canada, and only 2% to 5% of the population has access to their services. It is thus very difficult and the demand is growing. However, every year, more and more midwives are entering the workforce, and we can only be very proud.
My colleague saw all that potential. She was determined that we should recognize the work of midwives and help them further themselves. She decided to work with people in her riding and across the country to establish a national day of the midwife. I am extremely proud to take up the torch and ensure that this bill is passed as soon as possible. However, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge her tremendous work on the ground.
As I said, all the parties in the House voted in favour of this bill. We had the chance to go to committee. I presented my bill to the hon. members of the Standing Committee on Health, where it was very well received. They also agreed to hear from witnesses directly affected by this bill. I had the opportunity to appear with the Canadian Association of Midwives and the National Aboriginal Council of Midwives, which also does extraordinary work.
I want to take few minutes to talk about the NACM, because this bill affects them a great deal. Access to midwifery services is particularly crucial in rural and remote communities, including among first nations.
Currently, when a women living on reserve becomes pregnant, the delivery process is not necessarily the same as in large urban centres. Here, the choice is much simpler. We can choose to be seen by a doctor, we can go to the hospital and be accompanied by a doula, or we can give birth at home or at a birthing centre with a midwife. We have a lot of options. Access to some of these options is still limited, but we have them.
For first nations, it is much more complicated.
A few weeks before giving birth, a pregnant woman has to be airlifted to a large urban centre. She is alone. She does not have her family, her spouse or her children with her. She is far away from her family during those final critical weeks. It is not only extremely sad, but downright terrible that these sorts of things are happening in a country as big and as rich as ours.
A good example that I was given was to imagine a woman who is giving birth to her first child. Like my colleague from Beauharnois—Salaberry and all of the other members who are parents, I know that you do not really know what to expect when you are expecting your first child. It can be extremely stressful. You ask yourself a thousand questions. You read books, watch films and talk to people you know to find out how it is going to go. The last weeks are extremely critical, as are the first few days after the delivery.
Women who are sent to large urban centres are alone. They do not have their family, friends, grandmother, mother or aunt to talk to and consult to find out if what is happening is normal. When they give birth, they are isolated in a large urban centre where they do not know anyone. They are not with their spouse.
The days following delivery can be very difficult. For example, a woman who wants to breastfeed may have breastfeeding problems or questions about breastfeeding in general. She cannot be with her own mother who could have shared her own experience. That is very difficult on these women. They return to their communities, where there is no connection to the birth or to what happened. It is extremely difficult for the family, the woman and the community in general.
We are trying to reintegrate the birthing process into communities, because about 95% of pregnancies are considered normal. There is therefore no need to send women who are preparing to give birth to major urban centres. They can give birth in their community with midwives. This issue is slowly being addressed, based on the province or area where the community is located. However, there is still a long way to go.
I am very pleased to see that all of Parliament has decided that it is very important to acknowledge the incredible work that midwives do. Whether we are talking about midwives in first nations communities or midwives in general all across the country, it is extremely important to acknowledge the work that they do.
Today I simply wanted to rise in the House to thank my colleagues for the good work they are doing and for their goodwill on this bill. I noticed that there was a significant interest in continuing the debate on funding for midwives and in perhaps reviewing the birthing process for women from rural and remote communities.
I saw that all parties in the House showed openness on this issue, and I am extremely proud. I hope that this will continue. If my colleagues once again vote in favour of this bill at third reading, the next step will be the Senate. That will be a whole other experience. For now, I would like to thank Parliament. Why not take this bill as an excellent example of how the opposition and the government can work side by side, and why not continue in this direction for future bills?