History of the College
The first year of life for the College of Midwives of Ontario was an historic beginning, but it was also the culmination of more than a decade of labour to gain recognition for the important health care role of the community midwife.
Before midwifery became a regulated health profession in 1994, there were a number
of community midwives in Ontario, serving thousands of women since the mid-70s.
These midwives were trained in a variety of ways, including apprenticing with
practising midwives, clinical or apprentice training in another country, and
clinical training in a related profession.
Midwifery practice emerged in response to consumer demand. Midwifery care
was based on the belief that pregnancy and birth are normal, healthy,
family events. The pregnant and birthing mother was viewed as the primary
decision maker. Together with the women they served, community midwives
developed a model of care based on the principles of informed choice,
continuity of care throughout pregnancy, birth and postpartum, and choice of birth
place. In 1982, a number of midwives and consumers developed submissions
supporting the inclusion of midwifery for the Ontario Health Professions Legislative Review.
A small group of consumers, health care providers and other supporters of midwifery met with midwives from the Ontario Association of Midwives (OAM) to discuss the status of midwifery in Ontario. Subsequently, these consumers established the Midwifery Task Force of Ontario (MTF-O) to promote legislation and recognition of midwifery.
Within three years, the MTF-O had the support of over 1,000 members seeking an
alternative to the medical model of childbirth and maternity care. Over the
next several years, the OAM and the Task Force worked together to advocate
the creation of midwifery as a recognized profession.
In 1991, Bill 56, the Midwifery Act was passed, making Ontario the first province to recognize, regulate and fund midwifery as part of the health care system.
The passage of the Midwifery Act coincided with the passage of the Regulated Health Profession Act (RHPA) which included midwifery as one of twenty-three regulated health professions. The RHPA established a consistent regulatory framework for all health professions, based on principles of accountability and reflection of the public interest, and governed by Colleges.
With the stage set for the introduction of registered midwives upon proclamation of the RHPA, the Interim Regulatory Council on Midwifery (IRCM) was created to develop standards for the profession.
In consultation with practising midwives, other health professions and
midwifery consumers, the IRCM built the foundation for the regulation of the
profession, creating policies, standards of practice, and qualifications for
entry to practice. The IRCM also worked with the provincial government and
the Ontario Hospital Association on legislative changes to ensure that midwives
could attend births in hospitals.
The Ministry of Colleges and Universities announced a baccalaureate
program in Health Sciences (Midwifery) for the education of new midwives,
with programs to be offered at three Ontario
Ryerson Polytechnic Universities.
In accordance with the RHPA, the IRCM concluded its work, and the Transitional Council of the College of Midwives was appointed by the government. During 1993, the Transitional Council completed the necessary work to begin regulation of the profession after proclamation of the RHPA.
The Transitional Council designed and implemented registration procedures,
registering the first 60 midwives. Among other regulatory work, the
Transitional Council detailed the scope of practice and began development of a
prior learning assessment program to recognize the skills of midwives
trained outside the province.
December 31, 1993:
The RHPA and the Midwifery Act were proclaimed and came into force. The term "midwife" became a protected title, and only individuals registered with the College of Midwives became eligible to practise midwifery in Ontario and receive funding.
Midwives were now recognized as autonomous practitioners within the health care system, and Ontario hospitals became a part of the history of midwifery as they approved practice privileges for midwives.
On January 1, 1994, the College of Midwives of Ontario was established to administer the Midwifery Act in accordance with the RHPA and to protect and promote the midwifery model that was created by women and midwives, and to protect the public interest.