Ottawa, November 15, 2021 – Canada ranks 39th in the world in maternal mortality. The Society of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists of Canada (SOGC), alongside the Canadian Foundation for Women’s Health (CFWH), are announcing the launch of a number of initiatives to eliminate preventable maternal death in Canada. These projects are supported by funding from Merck, through Merck for Mothers*, the company’s global initiative to help create a world where no woman has to die while giving life. Critical to this goal is the development of a program for Confidential Enquiry into maternal mortality in Canada, which will help us understand the true picture of maternal deaths. By capturing and reviewing every such tragedy to one year post-delivery, and identifying contributory factors and opportunities for prevention, we hope to save mothers’ lives and improve obstetric care across the country. Recent U.S. data show that over 60% of pregnancy-related maternal deaths were preventable. We suspect the same is true for Canada, but we do not have accurate data to confirm this, nor do we have information about specific interventions required to save lives.
The SOGC is releasing a standardized toolkit for maternal mortality review and reporting. It will include recommendations for prevention, in English and French, and will be hosted on the SOGC’s online platform. There will also be a training program to use the toolkit and learn about maternal mortality consisting of webinars, online courses and podcasts. The SOGC will host bi-annual meetings of all maternal mortality review committees in Canada and will lead knowledge translation and dissemination through publications, infographics, presentations, and social media.
The Canadian Foundation for Women’s Health(CFWH) is also excited to launch the Kitty Carr Fund (click here to read Kitty’s story) to support this important initiative. The fund, made possible through a generous donation from Mr. Paul Carr whose wife, Kitty, died in childbirth 27 years ago, will be used to fund annual post-graduate scholarship(s) focused on prevention of maternal mortality as well as initiatives towards the implementation of a Confidential Enquiry System in Canada. The funding programs of the CFWH; the new Kitty Carr Fund, The Dawn Walker Grant and The Lalonde Bursary, support research, education and initiatives to improve access to the highest quality of obstetric care to improve outcomes for mothers, their babies and their families. To donate to, and read about the important work of CFWH,
please click here.
“The launch of the SOGC toolkit is the culmination of much research and collaboration. My daughter Kitty Lana and I are profoundly encouraged and grateful for the efforts of Dr. Cook and her colleagues in their extraordinary efforts to save mothers’ lives in Canada,” said Mr. Carr, who is also
launching a fundraising campaign and reaching out to 100+ Business Leaders in Canada seeking their companies support to the Kitty Carr Fund with a goal of raising $1 million to support research in the area and the implementation of the SOGC toolkit.
Dr. Popadiuk, Chair of the CFWH, stated: “There is nothing more unexpected or tragic for a family than losing a mother in childbirth. Mr. Carr so poignantly and generously has shared his family’s personal tragedy and wants to see something positive come of it for Canadian mothers.”
SOGC’s Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Jocelynn Cook emphasized that “leaders in the field have been working so hard to be able to find a way for Canada to capture and to learn from the stories of women and their families who experience a maternal mortality.”
“We are so thankful for Mr. Carr and for Merck for Mothers, for their steadfast support to help us begin this journey to eliminate preventable maternal death in Canada. We owe it to the families left behind to learn from each and every maternal death to prevent them happening again in the future. And we can do it,” she added.
“Maternal mortality is an important measure of human and social development because it’s revealing of women’s overall status, access to health care and the responsiveness of the health care system to their needs. I am proud that we are taking on the crucial project of improving the accuracy of national maternal data,” said Dr. Margaret Morris, President of the SOGC.
To arrange an interview with SOGC’s Chief Scientific Officer Dr. Jocelynn Cook, please contact: [email protected]
Fact sheet: Maternal Mortality in Canada
- Estimates suggest that 1,055 women have died in hospital while pregnant or post-partum in the last 20 years in Canada (excluding Quebec; the province does not contribute data to the National dataset) – approximately 53/year
- The World Health Organization suggests that Canada experienced 1,687 maternal deaths in the last 20 years at an average of 84 /year
- 1,012 of these deaths likely could have been prevented
- We can work together to prevent approximately 51 women from dying during pregnancy or in the post-partum period in Canada every year and 3,825 women from nearly dying each year
- Half of the babies die with their mothers, so we can also save 25 of them a year
Merck for Mothers is known as MSD for Mothers outside the United States and Canada.
About the SOGC
The SOGC is one of Canada’s oldest national specialty organizations. Established in 1944, the Society’s mission is to promote excellence in the practice of obstetrics and gynaecology and to advance the health of women through leadership, advocacy, collaboration and education. The SOGC represents obstetricians/gynaecologists, family physicians, nurses, midwives and allied health professionals working in the field of sexual reproductive health. For more information visit
About the CFWH
The mission of the CFWH is to advance the health of women in Canada and around the world through research, education and advocacy in obstetrics and gynaecology. The CFWH believes that every woman should have equitable access to optimal comprehensive health care, provided with integrity and compassion in Canada and around the world. For more information, please visit www.cfwh.org