The Ontario, Canada, government has lost a second legal appeal with the highest court in the province that upholds that it was responsible for discriminating against midwives and must take action to close the gender wage gap.
The Ontario Court of Appeal decision, which was released on 13 June, “resoundingly and without hesitation” upheld the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario’s (HRTO) finding. More than 1,000 midwives have been affected by this, with the Equal Pay Coalition noting that in the province, women earn only 70 cents to every dollar earned by men.
The courts found the Ontario government undervalued the work and worth of midwifery because it associates it with “women and women’s care work” and accepted that midwifery work when compared to work done by physicians, which it noted is historically associated with men, is “drastically undervalued”.
According to the findings, this represents a form of gender-based discrimination, which is illegal under Ontario’s Human Rights Code. The tribunal concluded with orders granting a compensation adjustment of 20% back to 2011, compensation for injury to dignity, feelings, and self-respect in the amount of $7,500 per eligible midwife, and orders to promote ongoing compliance with the midwifery code.
Jasmin Tecson, midwife and president of the Association of Ontario Midwives board of directors, said: “The courts have spoken loud and clear… and three times in a row. Midwives call on the Ford government to act without delay to close the gender wage gap for midwives.
“Midwives have persevered through almost a decade of the Ontario government dragging us through the courts, including during the pandemic. Undervaluing our work undermines the sustainability of midwifery. Midwives want Premier Ford to stop spending tax dollars fighting midwives and to invest in closing the gender pay gap instead. It’s time this government uses tools, like evidence-based job evaluations and intersectional gender-based analysis, to value the skills of midwifery work.”