President Jasmin Tecson – PPE, pandemic pay and pay equity
May 6, 2020
Jasmin Tecson, midwife at Seventh Generation Midwives in Toronto became president of the AOM board of directors on May 5, 2020. The AOM asked Jasmin some questions, so that midwives far and wide could get to know her better.
AOM: Secret lives of midwives. What’s yours?
JT: People outside of midwifery have ideas of what we’re like. Inside the profession, we know there’s no consistent type beyond being smart and opinionated – and I mean that in the best way. We all came to this profession from a number of different paths and perspectives, so it’s no wonder our secret lives might vary too. These days mine includes trying to stay active with home workouts to Dr Seuss rapped to Dr Dre. The beats are really fun and energizing. Fox in Socks makes a great warmup, then I pick it up with One Fish Two Fish, or I mix it up with The Lorax. Lol, I can’t believe I just typed those sentences.
AOM: An often misunderstood profession. Why midwifery?
JT: “Oh you must love babies.” “Your job is so beautiful.” These are only parts of the truth that is midwifery. There’s this romantic allure it seems to have for people that’s oblivious to the gritty intensity, the many frustrations, the tedium, the sometimes frightening responsibility. There’s laughing, crying and swearing, and not just by the clients. But as much as midwifery drains me, it also fills me up. Sharing the path of birthing parents, supporting their discovery of how strong they really are, the infinite magnificent ways that this happens, is so compelling. Now comes the scaled-up challenge of discovering new strengths in the profession and building them up. The babies are a lovely side benefit.
AOM: Improving the lives of midwives. What are your hopes for the future of midwifery?
JT: When I thought about my current hopes for midwives, I noticed a distinct theme of Ps. In the short term I would like PPE and pandemic pay for midwives. This latter isn’t about the money, it’s about not being overlooked once again. We are all tired of receiving empty thanks yet being under-resourced and under-compensated. Which bring me to my biggest hope, someday getting pay equity for midwives. This would obviously make a huge difference in our lives and contribute to a healthier professional outlook.
AOM: Frontline care during COVID-19. What does it mean to step into leadership now?
JT: It’s definitely intimidating. There’s a phrase making the rounds online right now, that we aren’t all in the same boat, but in the same storm. This astutely captures the inequities, the uneven societal vulnerabilities during this pandemic. But I do think this analogy can also be applied more generally to the evolving realities of Ontario midwifery. It’s awe-inspiring to reflect on the fact we’re the largest group of midwives in the country. Yet that brings the challenges of different experiences of practice, practitioner or community needs, and definitely variable amounts of power. It might not be a full storm, but we have an unsettled climate of health system transformation, uneven hospital integration, and continued lack of pay equity. The Association works very hard to stay abreast of members’ needs, essentially trying to steer the best route for our fleet of different boats. I’m taking a big breath and stepping up to the responsibility of leading that effort.
AOM: Wishes for midwives. Do you have one?
JT: It’s the simple things that sustain us, particularly in such upended times. For my midwife peers, I wish efficient smooth births, a good sleep and tasty nutritious food after. I wish for the time when they can give and receive hugs again, without full PPE.
AOM: Taking the baton. What’s one thing you’ve learned from Elizabeth?
JT: There’s so much I admire about Elizabeth. I could go on, but I’ll focus on how her firm yet gracious perseverance was so effective when working with stakeholders. It was a beautiful thing to watch in meetings and particularly in negotiations, when she flagged directions that were against midwifery interests or might bog us down. I’m hoping I can build on her example of strategic patience and keep us moving forward.