Making visible the impacts of the COVID‑19 pandemic on pregnant Indigenous people in Ontario who experience mandatory evacuation for birth: A qualitative Indigenous feminist research health analysis
Canada is in a maternity care crisis as a result of hospital maternity care closures, decreasing numbers of physicians delivering babies, and the centralization of maternity care services in large, usually southern, tertiary hospitals. In fact, from December 10, 2021 to February 21, 2022, the only maternity care unit in Yellowknife is being closed due to staffing challenges. The maternity care crisis is not being meaningfully addressed anywhere in Canada, even before the COVID‑19 pandemic. Our research team is dedicated undertaking research that contributes to (re)building a national maternity care program and have focused on how maternity care is provided to pregnant Indigenous Peoples in Ontario. Indigenous Peoples have the highest birth rate in Canada and Ontario has the highest numbers of Indigenous Peoples, making this an excellent jurisdiction to examine. Unfortunately, all of the level 3+ maternity hospitals in Ontario are located in southern, urban areas that are very close to the Canada-USA border. Our research contributions to advancing health care, policy, programming, and health workforce needs begins with understanding of the comprehensive, gender-inclusive sexual and reproductive health needs in Ontario begins with two research goals: 1) to describe the practices of maternity care providers when caring for First Nations patients evacuated out of their community to give birth in an Ontario hospital during the COVID‑19 pandemic; and 2) to describe the maternity care experiences of Indigenous Peoples who live on or have lived on reserves and have been evacuated for maternity care services in Ontario during the COVID‑19 pandemic.