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article imageOntario midwives rally province for pay equity Special

By Brian Bradley     Jun 3, 2011 in Politics
Toronto - Over 600 people rallied Queen’s Park Wednesday demanding pay equity for Ontario midwives after over a decade of underpaid work in the province.
"Midwifery has been regulated in Ontario for 17 years," said Katrina Kilroy, president of the Association of Ontario Midwives (AOM) who organized the rally, in a statement posted on their web site. "For 11 of those years, midwives received zero pay increase. We are rallying to let the government know that midwives want pay equity and that midwives are worth it."
Midwifery became fully integrated into the provincial health care system in 1994. As independent practitioners, they are paid through transfer payment agencies funded by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care.
“At that time in history pay equity was very much on policy makers’ minds and a conscious attempt was made to ensure that we did not underfund this new profession,” said Kilroy.
Ontario midwives would not see a pay increase until 2005. A second small increase followed in 2008. According to an independent report published on behalf of the Ministry and AOM, the 11 year gap resulted in midwives falling behind comparative health care professions on the pay scale by 20 percent. They now make between $82,000 and $105,000, in line with a nurse practitioner but far below a family physician.
"A midwife is supposed to be paid between a registered nurse and a medical doctor," said Buffy Fulton-Breathat, a practicing midwife from Sudbury Community Midwives. "Now nurses have out distanced us. All we want to do is be where government said we should be."
Kilroy noted hefty pay increases given to Ontario police officers and security guards.
"All this for men with guns and nothing to the women who deliver our babies," she said, furthering suggesting the discrepancy is also a gender equity issue.
"Is it because midwives are a small, powerless profession made up of women? ... You cannot separate the worth of women from the worth of midwives. Women grew midwifery in Ontario, it belongs to us. Women are worth it. Midwives are worth it."
Despite the pay discrepancies, midwifery is a fast growing profession in the province. There are over 500 registered midwives in Ontario, up from 58 in 1993. They have provided care to over 100,000 mothers and babies since 1994.
“We have been busy trying to grow our profession and working up to 60 hour weeks,” said Fulton-Breathat. “We didn’t get around to fighting that we had no raise for 11 years.”
In a statement posted on the AOM’s web site after Thursday’s rally, Kilroy noted it is important to distinguish that while the government has not boosted funding to midwives, it has boosted funding to midwifery programs.
According to an AOM representative, Wednesday’s rally had a larger than expected turn out with midwives, supporters and families bussing in from across the province. The event also included check-ins for expectant mothers and babies.
More about Midwives, Ontario, Ontario government, pay equity
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