In Ontario, midwives deliver medical care to pregnant/laboring/postpartum women and their newborn babies. A woman may choose a midwive as an alternative to an obstetrician or family doctor to manage their pregnancy-related health. For nearly twenty years, Ontario’s Ministry of Health and Long Term Care (MOHLTC) has payed midwives (much like they pay doctors) to carry our their work caring for Ontario’s women and newborn babies.

Earlier this week, the Association of Ontario Midwives filed an application/complaint with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario. Apparently, they have tried, for many years, to negotiate with the MOHLTC a mechanism to ensure pay equity. According to the AOM, no progress has been made in this regard for nearly 2 decades and midwives, today, are actually payed less (cost of living-adjusted) than they were 20 years ago.

The AOM is arguing that this is a human rights issue because midwifery in Ontario is a profession made up (almost) entirely of women; there is only one registered male midwife in Ontario. According to Mary Ann Leslie, a Toronto midwife, “Pay equity is a human right protected by law. As midwives, we suffer a gender penalty because we are a female-dominated workforce, providing care to women, for a woman’s health experience of labour and birth – a perfect trifecta of discrimination.”

Midwives, like any workers in any field, deserve fair wages free of gender discrimination. In writing this, I wish to support Ontario’s midwives in their endeavor to protect their profession, their rights, and the patients for whom they provide good, evidence-based medical care.