Ottawa to pay for escort for aboriginal women travelling to give birth

Calling the current policy "extremely unhelpful," Health Minister Jane Philpott says Ottawa is changing the rules and will now pay for someone to travel with indigenous women who need to leave their communities to give birth.

Philpott tells The Canadian Press she heard a "cry loud and clear" from indigenous health experts who urged the federal government to allow pregnant aboriginal women to leave home with an escort.

Indigenous women without proof of such a medical need have long been forced to have their children alone and far from their land and heritage, which Philpott says comes with a "whole bunch of negative outcomes."

Health Canada estimates $22 million will be spent on the measure in this budget year.