Making a Complaint

The College protects the public interest by ensuring that BC registered midwives practice safely, competently and ethically.

If you have a concern about unprofessional, unsafe or unethical midwifery practice in British Columbia, you have the right to make a complaint to the College and to have it investigated. Although there is no time limit to register a complaint, you should let the CMBC know about your concern as soon as possible. A complaint can be made from any member of the public.

Please note that the College of Midwives does not have the authority to assess injury or award compensation to a complainant. This is done through the court system.

Making a complaint about a midwife’s professional practice is a serious matter. If you have a concern about care provided by a midwife, you may contact the Registrar at the College to first discuss your concerns to decide if you wish to make a complaint. The College may be able to help you to resolve the problem prior to submitting a formal complaint. You can reach the Registrar, Louise Aerts, at her direct line: 604-742-2234.

If you decide to make a complaint, the only stipulation is that a complaint about registered midwife or midwives must be made in writing. This can be received via email, fax, or post at:

Email: registrar [at] cmbc.bc.ca
Fax: 604-730-8908

Louise Aerts, Registrar & Executive Director
College Of Midwives Of British Columbia
Suite 603, 601 West Broadway
Vancouver, BC  V5Z 4C2

Please be sure to include your full name, the names of the midwife/midwives being complained about, preferred contact information, and relevant dates (i.e. delivery date) in your complaint.

Information about the College’s complaint investigation process can be found at this link.

Extraordinary actions to protect the public

During the investigation stage, or pending a hearing of CMBC’s Discipline Committee, the Inquiry Committee may, under section 35 of the Health Professions Act:

  1. Impose limits or conditions on the practice of the midwife, or
  2. Suspend the registration of the midwife

The Inquiry Committee will only take such actions if it considers them necessary to protect the public. These actions are only ordered in relation to serious allegations that, if admitted or proven to be true, would constitute a risk to the public and require immediate action.

Such actions do not halt the investigation process or constitute a final disposition of the complaint. The investigation continues with the limits, conditions, or suspension in place until the investigation is complete, the discipline hearing has commenced, or the action is no longer necessary to protect the public.

Timeliness of Investigation
Please refer to section 50.55 of the Health Professions Act and section 7 of the Health Professions General Regulation for the prescribed timeliness of Inquiry Committee investigations. Generally speaking, it takes time to investigate to ensure the inquiry panel has the information required to make an informed decision. CMBC’s complaints process can be expected to take 6-7 months on average.

Possible investigation outcomes

Under section 33(6) of the HPA, the Inquiry Committee has the following options for disposing of (deciding how to proceed after the investigation) the complaint:

  1. No further action: The Inquiry Committee may decide to take no further action if it views the matter as “trivial, frivolous, vexatious or made in bad faith,” or if it determines that “the conduct or competence” of the Registered Midwife was “satisfactory.”
  2. Action to resolve the matter between complainant and registrant: Where a matter falls short of warranting more formal measures, the Inquiry Committee may take any action it considers appropriate (such as suggesting mediation) with the goal of resolving the matter.
  3. Undertaking or consent agreement: The Inquiry Committee may also resolve the complaint by reaching a voluntary, written agreement with the midwife, which may include:
    • An undertaking by the midwife not to repeat the conduct;
    • An undertaking by the midwife to take specified educational courses;
    • A reprimand; and/or
    • An undertaking or consent to any other action specified by the Inquiry Committee.
  4. Discipline hearing: The matter may be referred to a hearing before the College’s Discipline Committee. This option is typically reserved for very serious matters in which efforts by CMBC to obtain a consensual resolution have not succeeded. The discipline process is started once the Registrar issues a citation (charging document) to the registrant under investigation.

Complainants and registered midwives are notified of the disposition (outcome) in writing.

The College cannot process complaints against individuals who are not registered midwives. However, if you have concerns about someone providing midwifery care who is not a registered midwife, please contact the Registrar [at] cmbc.bc.ca and see the Risks to Public Safety page of our website at: http://cmbc.bc.ca/complaints/illegal-practice/risk-to-public-safety/.

Role of the Health Professions Review Board

If dissatisfied with the Inquiry Committee’s disposition, the complainant may apply to the Health Professions Review Board (HPRB) within 30 days of receiving the notice of disposition, unless the Inquiry Committee has referred the complaint to the Discipline Committee for a hearing.