Canadians have access to publicly funded comprehensive health care services via ten provincial and three territorial insurance plans that are collectively referred to as “Medicare”. In addition, Health Canada provides services directly to specific groups (e.g. First Nations, Inuit, Veterans).
Canada’s Health Act provides a framework for the delivery of care with its main goal set out "to protect, promote and restore the physical and mental well-being of residents of Canada and to facilitate reasonable access to health services without financial or other barriers."
Health professions are regulated by authorities in the provinces and territories, not federally. Health professionals are therefore registered in the province or territory in which they work. Inter-provincial mobility agreements help to ensure that health professionals can move to another Canadian province or territory and continue to work in their profession. Registered midwives moving from one province to another apply under the Agreement on Mobility for Midwifery in Canada.
Under provincial legislation, most health professions in Canada are self-regulating. Self-regulatory authorities called “Colleges” or “Orders”, are governed by members of the profession and government appointed public members. In some cases, usually when there are small numbers of professionals, professions are regulated by a branch of government. The mandate of all regulatory authorities is to protect the public through setting minimum education and competency requirements, assessing applicants for registration, monitoring and enforcing standards of practice and safe care, and setting guidelines and requirements for continuing competency. The members of the Canadian Midwifery Regulators Council are the regulatory authorities for midwifery in Canada.
Associations of health professionals exist to represent and serve the interests of professional members. These are not-for-profit organizations usually funded through member fees. They often negotiate with governments for funding agreements, offer professional liability insurance, and provide continuing education opportunities and up-to-date professional information. In Canada, professional midwifery associations exist in both regulated and not-yet-regulated provinces and territories. The Canadian Association of Midwives is the national organization representing midwives and the profession of midwifery – its website provides contact information for its provincial and territorial member associations.