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Midwives win gender pay gap battle at Ontario human rights tribunal


Photo: Association of Ontario Midwives

A human rights tribunal has ordered the Ontario government to take action to end a gender pay gap for midwives, according to the Association of Ontario Midwives (AOM).

The pay gap is the result of what the AOM called discriminatory actions by the Ministry of Health.

“Government needs to immediately implement the orders aimed at closing the gender pay gap now and into the future. The orders call for substantial monetary Human Rights Code adjustments and changes to ministry compensation setting practices,” said Elizabeth Brandeis, a Toronto midwife and president of AOM. “Once implemented, the orders will work to ensure midwives no longer take home substantially less compensation because our work is so deeply associated with women.”

The AOM said the tribunal’s order includes a call for the government to set the compensation of midwives using gender analysis — “including its overlapping scope of practice with medicine and the fact that midwives, family physicians and obstetricians are considered equally competent as providers of low-risk care for pregnancy and birth,” said Brandeis.

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Mary Cornish, a human rights lawyer and counsel for AOM, said the ruling is precedent setting and it will have a ripple effect across the country — especially for groups seeking equity who are impacted by systemic forms of discrimination in jobs historically associated with women.

“The tribunal’s decision means that those who set the compensation of sex segregated workers and other protected groups must proactively ensure their compensation practices are free of bias,” said Cornish.

A copy of the full ruling is available at https://www.ontariomidwives.ca/pay-equity-midwives