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e-2467 (Health)

Initiated by Nadine Belzile from Gatineau, Quebec

Original language of petition: French

Petition to the Government of Canada

  • There are more than 3,000 stillbirths in Canada each year, and at least 30% of these babies could be saved;
  • Stillbirths are 16 times more common than cases of Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS);
  • Stillbirth is a neglected, invisible public health issue that is not addressed by current public policies;
  • The stillbirth rate in Canada is 3.1 per 1,000 births, and has been stagnant for more than 20 years, while the rate in the Netherlands decreased by 52% to reach 1.8;
  • The United Kingdom and Scotland have programs in place that have successfully reduced the number of stillbirths by 20%;
  • The Government of Australia is developing a national action plan further to recommendations from a senate committee that studied the matter in 2018; and
  • The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada recommends that all pregnant women be informed of the importance of fetal movement during the third trimester.
We, the undersigned, citizens of Canada, call upon the Government of Canada to follow the lead of the aforementioned countries and put in place:
1. A national committee to study stillbirth in Canada as a public health issue and to make recommendations for reducing the number of cases; and
2. A national awareness campaign, similar to the one for SIDS, to inform pregnant women of the risk of stillbirth and the importance of fetal movement during the third trimester.

Response by the Minister of Health

Signed by (Minister or Parliamentary Secretary): Jennifer O'Connell

The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) agrees with the importance of providing information and guidance in relation to the risk of stillbirth. We also recognize that, over the past century, advancements in maternity care have significantly reduced the stillbirth rate in Canada.

To contribute to this effort, PHAC supports initiatives that promote positive pregnancy and birth outcomes for families, such as the development and dissemination of the Family-Centred Maternity and Newborn Care National Guidelines. These guidelines address the importance of health care providers educating families on strategies to improve birth outcomes, for example the importance of fetal movement, and the importance of fetal movement counting in specific situations. The guidelines also place a large emphasis on providing family-centred care should a perinatal loss unfortunately occur, including stillbirth. 

In addition to developing and disseminating guidance and information on this issue, PHAC funds the community-based Canada Prenatal Nutrition Program (CPNP), which reaches over 45,000 participants each year across Canada. The CPNP aims to help improve the health outcomes during pregnancy for new parents and their babies, particularly those who face challenges that put their health at risk, such as poverty, teen pregnancy, social and geographic isolation, substance use or family violence.

PHAC will continue to monitor this issue and take steps to support awareness, where possible, including consideration of additional communication opportunities going forward. 

Open for signature
October 7, 2020, at 12:12 p.m. (EDT)
Closed for signature
February 4, 2021, at 12:12 p.m. (EDT)
Presented to the House of Commons
Steven MacKinnon (Gatineau)
February 23, 2021 (Petition No. 432-00548)
Government response tabled
April 12, 2021
Photo - Steven MacKinnon
Liberal Caucus