In a new human rights challenge, Ford government says workload, not gender, justifies midwife pay gap

Stock photo provided by the Association of Midwives

The Doug Ford government is challenging a landmark pay equity victory for Ontario midwives, saying the ruling “unreasonably” holds that the province discriminated against the profession on the basis of sex.

Midwives have long been fighting for equal pay, arguing they do the same job as physicians who deliver babies, but get a third less in compensation.

Their battle eventually led to a groundbreaking September 2018 Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario decision that found from 2005 to 2013, there is “sufficient evidence” to support a claim that Ontario’s health ministry had discriminated on the basis of gender in setting compensation.

The decision told the Ford government to negotiate with midwives to end the pay equity gap. To date, the Ford Tories have refused.

National Observer has now learned the government filed a Notice of Application on March 11, asking the tribunal for “a quashing” or stay of the decision, arguing it “unreasonably found that sex was a factor in ‘the compensation gap that has developed between midwives and (community health centre) physicians since 2005’ even though there was no direct evidence that sex was a factor in the differences in compensation between these two occupations.”

Midwifery requires a four-year bachelor of health sciences degree to start, where students are trained in reproductive science, physiology and women’s health. In 2017, Ontario midwives supported 24,066 births, or 16 per cent of all births in the province.

Midwives continue to deliver 15 per cent of babies born in Ontario, care for 12 to 14 per cent of pregnant women and are turning away clients because they can’t meet the demand, according to the Association of Ontario Midwives (AOM), which plays an advocacy and support role for almost 1,000 midwives across the province, all of whom are female at present. (At least 40 per cent of people who wish to have a midwife go without, for lack of supply.) MORE

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