Thank you so much, Madam Gladu.
I am very proud to be able to participate in the work of this committee, which you chair. I have great respect for your work in Parliament.
I am here this morning to encourage my colleagues to give their approval to begin this important study as early as Thursday. The dismantling of Laurentian University will have national implications, and I am very concerned about the midwifery program.
I want to encourage my colleagues to work together at this time, considering the importance of dealing with the crisis in the midwifery program at Laurentian, and to make it a priority so that we could begin on Thursday.
I want to give my colleagues a sense of just how important it is for us to do this work, and I trust my colleagues understand the importance of it.
Tomorrow is the International Day of the Midwife, so I think we all carry an even bigger responsibility. For national midwives' day, let's do something right. As someone whose three daughters were delivered by midwives, I've seen the incredible impact and positive health benefits.
What the Laurentian program did was that it made midwifery possible in the region, in rural regions, in francophone communities and in the Far North communities. Where we've had very low and poor health outcomes for many years, the midwives have been real game-changers. I'm thinking of communities like Attawapiskat and Fort Albany where, when young women are pregnant, they are flown out without family to distant hospitals where they have to stay because they don't have birthing services in their communities. To have midwives in those communities not only makes the birthing experience much more holistic, but it's such a better system and it alleviates massive costs we see in the far northern communities.
This program played a huge role. I'm thinking of the midwifery program at the Centre de santé du Témiskaming in New Liskeard, a francophone midwifery program for rural women. It's really important. This is the only program of its kind in Canada. When we heard about the cuts, we were all so shocked because this is a program that brought its own funding. This had nothing to do with the mismanagement by the Laurentian University board. To cut this program made no sense, but its impacts are huge.
I was talking to a student who'd come from Grande Prairie, Alberta, to study at Laurentian. Why did she leave home, rent a place in Sudbury and come to take this program? Number one, it was a world-class program, but number two, she said, was because this was the one program that understood what it would be like for her to work in a rural region so she could go back to Alberta and bring that expertise.
The decision to cut this program was done so arbitrarily that we had midwives—students—who had no ability to take their placements. They need insurance to be able to get out in the field. There was suddenly no insurance. One midwife professor was fired in the middle of her class. What kind of disrespect is that? We have to do better in our university programs, but the idea that they could put this program under CCAA protection and hack it apart, leaving midwives with no capacity or ability to get out in the field and do the work they had come to be trained for....
I think it behooves us as a committee to study this and to get a report to Parliament as quickly as possible. I want to give a shout-out to my provincial colleagues Jamie West and France Gélinas who've been pushing. We understand the provincial government will be stepping up, but I think it's still important for us to lay the parameters of what we need to do to protect this program.
Certainly I'm speaking on behalf of my colleague Lindsay Mathyssen who's been very involved in this. I'm asking my colleagues. We need to get this midwifery study started as early as Thursday. I'm hoping we can get everyone on side on this, so we can move ahead.
Thank you very much.