Midwives celebrate landmark decision to end gender pay gap

Midwife checks baby heart beat and movement. © Can Stock Photo / lucidwaters

The Midwives of Chatham-Kent are holding a rally on Friday urging the province to end the gender pay gap in their profession.

Midwives across Ontario filed a complaint seven years ago alleging the government had discriminatory compensation practices for midwives on the basis of gender. In 2018, a landmark decision ruled in favour of the midwives and on February 19, 2020 the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario ordered the Ford government to end the gender pay gap for midwives.

Alison Lally has worked as a midwife in Chatham-Kent since 2002 and became co-owner of the Midwives of Chatham-Kent in 2011. Lally wants the government to stop spending tax dollars to fight the midwives.

“I just want the government to stop its judicial review [of the tribunal decisions] and comply with the tribunal orders,” said Lally.

The Association of Ontario Midwives also wants the government to immediately implement the orders.

“The orders call for substantial monetary Human Rights Code adjustments and changes to ministry compensation-setting practices,” said Elizabeth Brandeis. “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 orders will ensure midwives no longer suffer from prejudice and stereotypes about the value of our work.”

Brandeis said midwives, family physicians and obstetricians are considered equally competent by the government as providers of low-risk care for pregnancy and birth.

“The Tribunal has spoken, the way forward is clear. The time has come for the government to stop spending tax dollars and resources by continuing to wage its seven-year legal battle against midwives,” she added.

Lally said there’s an appointment set up with MPP Rick Nicholls on Friday at 3 p.m. and is asking as many clients as possible to gather outside his office with their babies to show him that midwives and the care they provide are valued. The rally is at 111 Heritage Road in Chatham on Friday at 2:45 p.m.