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CMO Request to Hon. Minister Hoskins Ontario’s to Rescind Mandatory Ocular Prophylaxis

August 12, 2015

Note: This article was originally posted in our August 2015 newsletter, and has not been updated.

In support of clear research evidence and community led petitions to rescind Ontario’s mandatory ocular prophylaxis law, the CMO recently sent a letter to the Honourable Dr. Hoskins, Ontario Minister of Health and Long-Term Care requesting that this out-dated law be rescinded.

In this letter, the College clarified that, as a standard of practice, midwives in Ontario offer informed choice, providing their clients with research evidence regarding the potential benefits and risks of the various components of care. Due to the mandatory ocular prophylaxis law and despite strong evidence that the administration of ocular prophylaxis is ineffective, midwives are not able to provide informed choice about its potential benefits and harms. In fact, when a client refuses this mandatory treatment, the midwife can incur large fines and the practice becomes at risk of closure.

As part of the larger health care system, enforcing this law limits the ability of midwives, together with all health care providers, to deliver the highest quality care.
Rescinding this law is supported and promoted by the Canadian Paediatric Society (CPS). The CPS’s position statement from March 2015 uses current research evidence to show that the routine application of erythromycin to a newborn’s eyes, for preventing neonatal ophthalmia caused by N gonorrhoea and C trachomatis, is ineffective and can interfere with the early bonding between a mother and newborn.  As a result of this evidence, the CPS has asked that organizations petition the government to repeal this out-dated law.

Belleville midwife Liza van de Hoef has spearheaded the recent campaign “Eye Protest” to petition the government to rescind the law.  Liza is attending Queen’s Park on November 30, 2015 at 10am for a media briefing and presentation of the petition to the legislative assembly.  Congratulations to Liza for raising awareness of this important issue on behalf of all newborns and their families in Ontario.

To read the College’s full letter, please click here.

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