Birth Place Lab Secures Federal Funding for Women’s Health Initiative!

The Birth Place Lab to lead the “Justice and Equity in Perinatal Services (JEPS) Hub.”


The National Women’s Health Research Initiative was announced as part of the 2021 federal budget. It is a joint initiative between the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) and Women and Gender Equality Canada (WAGE). Earlier this year, they announced a funding opportunity (one of two streams), the “Pan-Canadian Women’s Health Coalition – Coordinating Centre,” to be launched in the Fall of 2023.

On August 24th, the Honourable Mark Holland, Minister of Health, and the Honourable Marci Ien, Minister for Women and Gender Equality and Youth, announced an $8.3+M investment from the CIHR’s Institute of Gender and Health and WAGE, for the Pan-Canadian Women’s Health Coalition – Hubs. Ten virtual hubs across Canada will link and form the coalition with a coordinating centre, a truly trans-Canadian effort. The investment funds 10 grants, $840,000 each, with a max of $210,000 per year for up to four years.

Funding Approval

The Birth Place Lab submitted its application, “The Justice and Equity in Perinatal Services (JEPS) Hub: Community-led mobilization of evidence on models of healthcare delivery that advance quality, safety, and respect,” and it was approved for Operational Grant funding—ranking 2nd among the 36 applicants, of which only 10 were funded. They were awarded the full amount of $208,751 per year for four years.

The hub’s primary focus is on underrepresented and underserved segments of our society. Indigenous communities, individuals with disabilities, immigrants, sex workers, LGBTQAI2S+ individuals, and more, especially those who may become pregnant.

The goal is to assess the safety and cultural appropriateness of birthing practices. The project aims to build a strong network of community support, well-informed professionals, and teams capable of delivering top-notch prenatal, natal, and post-natal care. Community-embedded midwives will play a significant role in providing this care.

Review Committee Accolades

“Quality and transparency of decision-making—this is as clearly and carefully laid out as I have ever seen.”

The people behind this incredible initiative

Leadership Team (Applicants)

  • Dr. Saraswathy Vedam: A Nurse and Midwife, a Professor in Family Practice, and the former Head of Midwifery at the University of British Columbia. Saraswathy’s educational background includes degrees from Yale and Amherst in the USA, as well as a PhD from the University of Sydney, Australia. She heads the unique 10-year Birth Place Lab, whose mission is to “Advance the Physiology of Birth.” She’s also leading the national CIHR-funded RESPECT project.
  • Dr. Cynthia Maxwell: As the Principal Knowledge User, she’s a bilingual Ob-Gyn Clinician-Scientist from the University of Toronto.
  • National Aboriginal Council of Midwives


Ms. T. Austin, Ms. A. Bacon, Dr. H. Banner, C. Beitel, Dr. B. Bingham, Dr. B. Black Physicians of Canada, Dr. H. Brown, Ms. A. Campbell, Canadian Association of Midwives, Ms. L. Columbus, Dr. R. D’Souza, Dr. E. Darling, Mrs. I. Dena, Mrs. M. Furnivall, Madame R. Gagnon, Prof. M. Handa, Ms. E. Harney, Ms. K. Hodge, Dr. P. Janssen, Ms. G. Jolicoeur, Mrs. A. Julien Reid, E. Laing, Dr. A. Lowik, Dr. L. Lyons, Madame S. Lévesque, Ms. K. MacDonald, Dr. I. Malhamé, Ms. K. Mayra, Ms. L. McRae, Madame A. Métellus, Prof. W. Norman, Dr. R. Olson, Mrs. W. Phillips-Beck, Dr. R. Price Ms. B. Reddy, Dr. M. Sukhai, Mr. N. Syed, Dr. M. TUNDE-BYASS, Dr. L. Tarasoff, Mrs. A. Tatum, Ms. A. Thorp, Madame R. Tremblay, .. Unlocking the Gates Services Soc, Dr. D. Upadhyaya, Prof. K. Wilson-Mitchell ,Mrs. M. Korchinski, Dr. N. Malhotra


The leadership team also includes the following organizations: Midwives of Canada, the National Aboriginal Council of Midwives, Black Physicians of Canada, Aboriginal Midwives of Canada, and the Canadian National Institute of the Blind, including Salish Elder, Roberta Price, leading an impressive Indigenous team right at the heart of the proposal.