Better Care for Babies and Families
Ontario is funding Canada’s first dedicated care centre for fetuses requiring high-risk medical care and in-utero surgeries. The new Ontario Fetal Centre will support expectant families with increased access to world-renowned specialists and ground-breaking surgeries.
Premier Kathleen Wynne was at Mount Sinai Hospital in Toronto today to announce the government’s support for the Ontario Fetal Centre, a collaboration between the Sinai Health System and The Hospital for Sick Children (SickKids), and a first in Canada. With the help of an investment from Budget 2018, this centre will bring together leading specialists in fetal care, providing pregnant women in Ontario with greater access to some of the most advanced in-utero surgeries. The new centre will provide timely, leading-edge care for pregnant women whose baby has been diagnosed in utero with a condition that may require highly specialized medical care, such as heart or spinal surgery in the womb.
The Premier also announced a series of actions to better support families at the critical stages of conception, pregnancy, childbirth and during newborns’ first six weeks. The government will give families more choices when having a baby by providing access to midwives, who are experts in low-risk pregnancy, birth and care for newborns, for more than 6,700 more families this year. Ontario is also enhancing the bundle of support for families through actions including:
- Providing over 27,000 people access to the Ontario Fertility Program, which helps people start and grow their families, including funding for a full round of in vitro fertilization
- Expanding the Rogers Hixon Ontario Human Milk Bank and the Pumps for Premature Babies Program, which gives premature babies who need surgery or who were born at a very low birth weight access to human milk, reducing the risk of potentially life-threatening complications
- Making it easier for new parents by offering a user-friendly 5-in-1 Newborn Bundle so they can start saving for their child’s education right away and register their child’s birth, request a birth certificate, apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN) and register for Canada and Ontario Child Benefits all in one place.
Expanding support for families is part of the government’s plan to support care, create opportunity and make life more affordable during this period of rapid economic change. The plan includes free prescription drugs for everyone under 25, and 65 or over, through the biggest expansion of medicare in a generation, free tuition for hundreds of thousands of students, a higher minimum wage and better working conditions, and easier access to affordable child care.
- Ontario is investing $4 million to create the Ontario Fetal Centre, which will be one of the few in the world to offer a full range of highly specialized surgeries and procedures in utero.
- Teams at Mount Sinai and SickKids performed Canada’s first ever in-utero surgical procedure last year to repair spina bifida, and another procedure to repair a congenital heart defect a few weeks before the child was born.
- In 2016-17, midwives supported about 24,000 births across the province. Ontario is investing over $166 million in midwifery care to help up to 6,700 more families access midwifery care, bringing the annual total to about 30,000.
- Ontario is adding 82 new midwifery graduates to assist about 600 more families, as well as adding 22 midwives to join team-based health care providers who care for about 1,125 expectant families annually.
- The province is adding three more Indigenous midwives in Elliot Lake and Toronto to provide culturally appropriate and safe care to 190 more Indigenous families.
- There are over 850 midwives registered and regulated by the College of Midwives of Ontario, with over 700 active members practising in 92 Midwifery Practice Groups.
- Ontario is also enhancing support for expecting families by funding breast pumps for mothers of premature babies, to support the healthy development of these babies.
- Ontario is giving new parents a one-stop shop for everything they need to give their newborn a good start: Ontario.ca/newborn offers a 5-in-1 Newborn Bundle to request a birth certificate, apply for a Social Insurance Number (SIN), register for Canada and Ontario Child Benefits and begin the process of setting up a Registered Education Savings Plan (RESP).
- Ontario is the first province to bundle registration for birth certificates and SIN numbers with an Education Savings Referral service.
- Ontario is also phasing in a screening program to test newborns for the risk of permanent hearing loss, so families can get treatment or support sooner. Newborn Screening Ontario screens all newborns in Ontario for a range of serious, treatable diseases, amounting to over 145,000 screens annually.
“Expecting a child is an exciting and busy time, but it can also be one of the scariest and most stressful. Government has a role to play in easing what’s often a new parent’s biggest worry — will my child be healthy? We’re helping to put their minds at ease by creating the first centre in Canada for advanced care for babies at risk while still in the womb. It means parents facing the added anxiety of a high-risk pregnancy can get the care they need — even the most advanced treatments — without having to leave the province. We are also enhancing programs for new and expectant parents, such as increasing access to midwives for low-risk pregnancies. These steps are boosting choices and care every step of the way.”
“Supporting parents during what can be one of the most exciting yet stressful times in their lives is a priority for our government. This new partnership between Mount Sinai Hospital and SickKids will give parents confidence that their future is in the best hands.”