The Association of Ontario Midwives

The Association of Ontario Midwives

All Ontario families are now equal under the law

Representatives from the AOM and midwife Devi Krieger from the Midwives Collective of Toronto were at Queen’s Park on November 29 as members of provincial parliament (MPPs) voted on Bill 28, the All Families Are Equal Act, 2016. Since MPPs passed the bill, midwives and families across Ontario have been celebrating the new provincial legislation that will ensure equal treatment for all parents and children.

Bill 28 “recognizes the legal status of all parents, whether they are LGBTQ+ or straight, and whether their children were conceived with or without assistance.” Using gender-neutral language, the legislative changes will revise Ontario’s parentage and birth registration rules, amending laws, which have not been updated since 1978.

Midwife Devi Krieger (left) celebrates the passing of Bill 28, the All Families Are Equal Act, 2016, with Cheri DiNovo, NDP LGBTQ Issues Critic and MPP for Parkdale-High Park. Ms. DiNovo introduced an earlier version of the bill, named Cy and Ruby's Act, giving parental recognition to LGBTQ parents.

The LGBTQ Parenting Network, a program of Sherbourne Health Centre in Toronto, has been a champion of Bill 28. According to the network, the new legislation will recognize the legal status of all families by bringing about the following changes:

• There will no longer be a distinction between types of parents. A parent who gives birth will not have more legal rights than a parent who did not give birth.

• Sperm donors are recognized as donors, not parents.

• Multiparent families will no longer need to go to court in order to recognize up to four parents from birth.

• The legislation is written in language that recognizes a range of gender identities.

• A court process will no longer be required to recognize parents through surrogacy. When there is a surrogacy agreement in place, and all parents and the gestational carrier or surrogate agree, the surrogate will sign consent after the baby is at least seven days old, and the parent or parents will be able to register the birth.

The Ontario Hospital Association has drafted an update on Bill 28 for hospitals, as the bill may impact existing process and policies for the management of obstetric patients, specifically with respect to registration of births and understanding who has substitute decision-making authority as a parent of the child.

Midwives have long cared for diverse clients, including LGBTQ+ families and women who are acting as surrogates for families. This new legislation and new recognition of families will influence the way midwives fill out the provincial Notice of Live Birth form (which is completed by health-care professionals and sent to the Office of the Registrar General) and the way they counsel LGBTQ families and those who used assisted reproduction regarding the completion of birth registrations and certificates.