Midwives sue government over labour pains

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 worth!"

"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.

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: Association of Ontario Midwives

For further information:

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

Juana Berinstein, Director of Policy and Communications
416-371-1468 (mobile)

Joanna Zuk, AOM Communications Manager
416-704-7452 (mobile)

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Association of Ontario Midwives

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