Manitoba’s midwives could be hitting the picket line very shortly.
There are 53 midwives in Manitoba and 30 midwives working within the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority voted 91 per cent in favour of a strike mandate in January.
“It’s devastating,” said Alicia Thwaites who delivered two children with the help of a midwife.
“I know how devastating it would be should a strike happen, not only for people who are currently in care, but for people who are applying for midwifery care.”
Thwaites was part of a small group of supporters who gathered outside a conciliation meeting on Wednesday.
Midwives within CUPE 2348 have been working without a contract for almost two years. Their collective agreement expired in March 2014.
The union has held a number of meetings with a provincial conciliator officer to try and reach a fair deal with their employer. There are suggestions that Wednesday could have been the last meeting and that if a deal was not reached, a strike would be imminent.
“They don’t want to go on strike, they don’t want to put their clients out,” said supporter Laurissa Smerchanski-Sims.
“They are fighting for wage equality and equity within their profession, they are fighting to get more midwives and funding for the education program.”
The union has said hundreds of more midwives are needed to meet current demand and essentially it comes down to money.
“We need to be able to make sure that the midwives that are trained in Manitoba actually get their training,” Smerchanski-Sims said.
“And that they don’t leave Manitoba and those that have left Manitoba have an opportunity to come back.”