TORONTO, ONTARIO--(Marketwired - Oct. 15, 2016) - Today, history was made with thousands gathering in 20 different cities across Ontario to honour the first official Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day. Events acknowledging the tragic loss of children that 37,000 families across Ontario experience every year, often with no explanation, from miscarriages, stillbirth and other medical complications.
"To have this special day recognized by so many cities across Ontario who are willing to talk about this important healthcare issue, gives families like mine a sense that we have not been forgotten. That our loss is deserving of recognition and that the province of Ontario cares about us," says Michelle La Fontaine, a bereaved mother and president, board of directors for the Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Network.
La Fontaine and her husband Tyler lost twins, Elora and Joseph the day after her thirtieth birthday. "I learned about PAIL Network through a friend who knew someone else who had experienced a loss. It took me a long time to be able to attend a group or talk to anyone about my twins, but as soon as I did, I felt instantly connected to a community of families who understood. For the first time since our loss, we had hope for the future," adds La Fontaine.
Bill 141 became law in Ontario in December and represents the first healthcare legislation of its kind in North America. Minister of Health Eric Hoskins recently announced $665,000 in initial funding to PAIL Network to begin expanding programs and services for Ontario families that are desperately in need of support.
Funding has become even more crucial as the demand for services has grown dramatically, doubling in the first quarter of 2016, compared to all of 2015, according to Jamie McCleary, an Ontario mother who experienced the tragic death of two sons, Perrin in 2007 and Matteson in 2008. McCleary, who is now the manager of programs for PAIL Network, says, "Sadly, the statistic that one in four pregnancies ends in loss, will not change next year, and the more aware families become, the more families seek our support. It has become difficult to continue running a full spectrum of support services, when the needs of families are growing every single month. Pregnancies will continue to end, babies will continue to die, and their parents will continue to grieve. In order to support them, we need ongoing government support."
La Fontaine and McCleary led the largest Pregnancy and Infant Loss Awareness Day event at Nathan Philips Square in front of Toronto City Hall, with Mike Colle, MPP for Eglinton-Lawrence and his daughter Bianca who suffered three pregnancy losses in three years. The iconic Toronto sign was illuminated in a vivid purple hue, which PAIL Network and other infant loss groups around the world universally use as a symbol.
Bill 141 received widespread support across the legislature from all parties and the enthusiastic support of The Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care thanks in part to the leadership of Mike Colle, MPP for Eglinton-Lawrence who worked hand in hand with PAIL Network. "This is an important step towards breaking down the walls of silence and neglect surrounding the loss of a child, suffered by mothers and their families across Ontario," says Colle.
"We are making sure that all children are important, that all children's lives matter. Going forward, we hope with the attention given to perinatal care by Bill 141, that the Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care will be able to reduce the number of losses and ensure that the best possible standards of care are established across the province," adds Colle.
In addition to the many family support programs, one-on-one peer support services for grieving parents, events and resources available on the PAIL Network website, PAIL Network's expertise is increasingly being sought to educate healthcare providers from doctors, nurses, social workers and ultra-sound technicians, to midwives, doulas, and funeral home directors across Ontario and beyond. They call PAIL Network year-round for training and advice to help deliver compassionate care to those suffering from the tragic and traumatic loss of a baby.
About Pregnancy and Infant Loss (PAIL) Network:
PAIL Network was formed in 1992 and is the recognized leader in Ontario for pregnancy and infant bereavement care, helping families and healthcare professionals for almost 25 years. Previously known as the Perinatal Bereavement Services Ontario, the organization was founded by four bereaved parents who realized that special community support services were needed for families who had experienced the tragic loss of a pregnancy or infant. PAIL Network provides much needed resources, workshops, peer led support groups, training and a support hotline for parents and primary healthcare providers. If you are grieving the loss of your pregnancy or baby PAIL Network understands and is here to help. To access more resources please visit www.pailnetwork.ca or call PAIL Network at 1-888-301-7276
For photos, event details, interview opportunities and inspiring stories of loss and perseverance please contact the undersigned.