BACKGROUND: The purpose of this resolution is to address the wage gap being experienced by the Midwives of Ontario.
Closing Ontario’s gender wage gap has been made a priority by the Premier. In the Minister of Labour’s 2014 Mandate Letter, the Premier charged the Minister of Labour (MOL), with support from Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues to develop a Gender Wage Gap Strategy. It further states that, “It is increasingly recognized that the gender wage gap – the difference between the earnings of men and women – represents lost economic opportunities for Ontario. Women make up an integral part of our economy and society, but on average still do not earn as much as men. You will work with the Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues and other ministers to develop a wage gap strategy that will close the gap between men and women in the context of the 21st century economy.” 1
Although progress has been realized since the introduction of some significant pieces of legislation, 1951 Female Employee’s Fair Remuneration Act; 1962 The Ontario Human Rights Code; 1987, Pay Equity Act; 2000 (updated 2014) the Ontario Employment Standards Act (ESA), the wage gap persists.
Midwifery is the most exclusively female-dominated profession (one male and seven hundred and forty female) in Ontario. It is driven by women for women. Today four out of ten women in Ontario are denied Midwifery services. Midwifery is under-valued and under-funded. Although Midwifery lost status in the early 1900’s, it experienced resurgence during the feminist movement of the 60s and 70s. In 1991 the Ontario government passed the Midwifery Act. The Ontario Midwifery Program operates within the Ministry of Health and Long-term Care (MOHLTC). In 1993 the Ontario government recognized that there was systemic discrimination causing a gender wage gap for women working in the health care field and hired a consultant, Robert Morton, to perform a pay equity-informed analysis to determine the rate of pay for the newly regulated midwives with the intent of closing the gender wage gap. He determined that a midwife should fall slightly below a male-dominated Community Health Centre family physician and above that of a female primary care nurse (Nurse Practitioner). The Morton Report recommendations although incomplete were implemented effective January 1,1994. Since Regulation under the College of Midwives of Ontario (CMO), the MOHLTC froze midwives’ compensation from 1994-2005 and again between 2011 and 2013. No action was taken on the Association of Ontario Midwives (AOM) commissioned 2003 Hay Report or the commissioned MOHLTC’s 2010 Courtyard Report. Midwives have not received compensation to keep up with their comparators or for the increases in their scope of practice over the years.
In April 2013 the Association of Midwives accepted an offer that did not address the gender wage gap and advised that they would be filing an application with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO). Upon their request, Paul Durber, an independent pay equity expert focusing on the gender-based aspect, produced a 243-page report entitled “Examining the Issue of Equitable Compensation for Ontario Midwives”. While the wage gap for women in Ontario is 31.5%, Midwives were shown to be experiencing a 38% gap in 2013. He concluded “that pay equity principles have not served Midwives well in their compensation and that over time the profession has become more disadvantaged despite being asked to do more in line with the values and goals of the primary health care system. Such discrimination and disadvantage run counter to public policy and human rights and pay equity principals.
The wage gap for Midwives in Ontario is a prime example of the complex nature of the gender wage gap. It demonstrates that when applied legislation can play a role in narrowing the gap, while the factors associated with what is assessed as the degree of “midwife friendly” practices in hospital settings, outlined in cost effective analysis of low risk deliveries research speaks to the systemic barriers and cultural conditions contributing to the wage gap.
RESOLUTION: THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED THAT BPW Ontario strongly urges the Government of Ontario to demonstrate their commitment to serve as a role model in closing the gender wage gap for Ontario’s Midwives as it offers a prime example of meaningful culture change that can be applied through collaboration with the Minister of Labour, Minister of Health and Long-term Care and the Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues;
AND FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED THAT BPW Ontario strongly urges the Government of Ontario to commit the Minister of Health and Long-term Care to maintain a regiment of ongoing analysis every five years of the compensation for Midwives in Ontario to prevent a gender wage gap from widening again.
©BPW Ontario www.bpwontario.com
Article ID: 4376