Last updated on April 18, 2014 at 17:24 EDT

Midwives sue government over labour pains

November 27, 2013

TORONTO, Nov. 27, 2013 /CNW/ – Today, the Association of Ontario
Midwives filed a complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario
over the government’s refusal to comply with pay equity for midwives.

When midwives were introduced into Ontario’s health system 20 years ago,
they roughly achieved pay equity, but government has not maintained pay
equity over time. Government has repeatedly failed to implement
recommendations for pay equity.

“It’s unfortunate that after years of trying to work with the government
to address pay equity, it’s come to this. We feel forced to sue after
all our efforts to ensure pay equity have been dismissed by
government,” says Lisa M. Weston, President of the Association of
Ontario Midwives. “The most recent pay equity reports confirm the pay
equity gap for midwives means we are only paid 52% of what our work is

“It’s as if we begin working for free in July of each year,” says Mary
Ann Leslie, a Toronto area midwife who has been in practice for 28
years. “Pay equity is a human right protected by law. As midwives, we
suffer a gender penalty because we are a female-dominated work force,
providing care to women, for a woman’s health experience of labour and
birth – a perfect trifecta of discrimination.”

Midwives are represented in the legal action by Mary Cornish of
Cavalluzzo Hayes Shilton McIntyre & Cornish LLP, an expert in pay
equity and human rights law.

“Midwives have been undervalued, which is consistent with other
female-dominated professions,” says Cornish. “This is the biggest pay
equity gap I’ve ever seen. Government should be ensuring midwives do
not face a gender penalty. Fairness is a quality all Canadians hold
dear and it’s shameful that midwives have had their rights trampled on
for years.”

There are almost 700 registered midwives in Ontario, serving communities
in 100 clinics across the province. Since midwifery became a regulated
health profession in 1994, 150,000 babies have been born under
midwifery care.

Midwives are experts in normal pregnancy, birth and newborn care.
Midwifery care is funded by the Ministry of Health and Long-Term care.
Midwives are university educated, and trained in emergency management.
Midwifery care is rooted in the most current maternal and newborn care
research and evidence.

SOURCE Association of Ontario Midwives

Image with caption: “Lawyer and pay equity expert Mary Cornish speaks at a press conference to announce that Ontario midwives have filed an application with the Human Rights Tribunal over government’s refusal to comply with pay equity for midwives. An independent pay equity expert has found that midwives are paid only 52 percent of what their work is worth. L to R: Midwives Claudette Leduc and Association of Ontario Midwives President Lisa Weston, legal counsel Mary Cornish, Midwives Mary Ann Leslie and Sarah Leslie (Photo Credit: Shan Qiao) (CNW Group/Association of Ontario Midwives)”. Image available at: http://photos.newswire.ca/images/download/20131127_C5330_PHOTO_EN_33932.jpg

Source: PR Newswire