Midwives call on Ford government to stop fighting pay equity in court and invest in closing gender wage gap instead
November 8, 2021
TORONTO: Midwives defend their right to pay equity on Nov. 10 as the Ford government appeals a decision made in favour of midwives, this time in the Ontario Court of Appeal. The government already lost an appeal in 2020 at Divisional Court. Through the appeal, government refuses to accept midwives are underpaid because their work is associated with women. This refusal jeopardizes the rights of midwives to be paid fairly.
Midwives filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) in 2013 after many years of the government ignoring their pay equity claims. A finding of gender-based discrimination was made by the HRTO (2018 and 2020) and upheld by the Divisional Court (2020).
“The Ford government has been throwing tax dollars into lengthy legal battles and appeals instead of investing in fair pay for midwives,” explains Jasmin Tecson, midwife and President of the Association of Ontario Midwives (AOM). “The government continues to refuse to fix a problem the courts have decisively found to be systemic sex discrimination under the Human Rights Code. Midwives are providing essential pregnancy, birth, postpartum and newborn care, including during the pandemic under challenging conditions, while being massively underpaid for our work.”
The Ford government is asking the Ontario Court of Appeal to overturn the decisions which would close the gender wage gap for midwives. The orders include a 20% retroactive and ongoing equity adjustment on midwifery compensation to rectify the discrimination up to 2013 ; and a pay equity job analysis and re-established benchmarks with the male comparator (including physicians who deliver babies) to determine and close the gender wage gap from 2013 onwards; and a gender-based analysis of the ways government makes decisions about what to pay midwives compared to physicians, to ensure gender-bias is eliminated from the way government does business.
Midwifery was introduced into the public health system in 1994 after a government Task Force found midwifery work had been subject to stereotypes and prejudice and the male dominant medical profession had suppressed its work. Pay equity principles were used then by government and the AOM to establish midwifery pay, including comparing against work done by physicians (work associated with men) with whom they shared an overlapping scope of practice. At the time, a difference in pay, based on similar but different work done by midwives and physicians, was found to be about $3,000. By 2010, this gap had grown to over $100,000. Now, even after the HRTO-ordered 20% equity down payment, the gap is over $126,000.
Midwives are calling on the Ford government to stop fighting them in the courts and end this ongoing pay discrimination which is attributable to their gender and the undervaluing of work associated with women.
According to Fay Faraday, Co-Chair of the Ontario Equal Pay Coalition, “In Ontario, on average, women earn only 68 cents on the male dollar. The gap is even larger for midwives. They suffer a gender penalty on their pay cheques precisely because their work is deeply associated with women and so is undervalued. Midwives have been fighting for pay equity at the Human Rights Tribunal and in the courts for nearly a decade. Closing their gender pay gap is long overdue.”
AOM will arrange interviews on request. Please contact Juana Berinstein, Director, Policy and Communications, at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone (416) 371-1468.
About the Association of Ontario Midwives:
The AOM advances the clinical and professional practice of Indigenous and Registered midwives in Ontario with a vision of midwives leading reproductive, pregnancy, birth and newborn care. There are over 1,000 midwives in Ontario, serving more than 250 communities across the province. Since midwifery became a regulated health profession in 1994, more than 250,000 babies have been born under midwifery care. For more information, visit: https://www.ontariomidwives.ca/midwifery-numbers