Sudbury

Northern Ontario midwives feeling 'vindicated' after wage gap ruling

Midwives in northern Ontario are celebrating a decision from Ontario’s Human Rights Tribunal which orders the provincial government to compensate them for a decades-long wage gap.

Midwives' salaries currently capped at roughly 65 per cent of what other health care professionals make

The Association of Ontario Midwives says that midwives provided care for over 25,000 people in 2019. (Shutterstock)

Midwives in northern Ontario are celebrating a decision from Ontario's Human Rights Tribunal which orders the provincial government to compensate them for a decades-long wage gap.

Buffy Fulton-Breathat, a partner at Sudbury Community Midwives, said midwives are feeling "vindicated" after the ruling.  

"At the time that midwifery was regulated in 1993 the ceiling was set for midwives at about $77,000," Fulton-Breathat said. "And at that time community health physicians were making in the neighborhood of $100-110,000. So we were expected to make about 65 percent of what a community health physician would make."

"In the meantime that's risen to well over $200,000 while the maximum that a midwife can make is slightly over $90,000."

One of the ongoing challenges a midwife in northern Ontario faces is the geography, Fulton-Breathat said. 

"I can speak to my own practice where we travel 100 kilometers in every direction," she said. "So we might be in Massey seeing a new baby and mom and then have to travel east to Sturgeon Falls to see the next person."

"So 200 kilometres side to side just to do a home visit."

Buffy Fulton-Breathat is a partner at Sudbury Community Midwives. (www.sudburymidwives.com)

Midwives, she said, are self-employed but don't receive the same per-kilometre fuel subsidy that federal employees get. And differences in fuel prices from community to community are noticeable.

"When you're paying 20 cents more per litre of fuel for your vehicle that's considerable," she said.

Coupled with that are the costs of travelling across rough northern roads and navigating through unpredictable weather.   

Fulton-Breathat said she hopes that the tribunal does not' cause any tension between midwives and others in the health field.

"I think there's an understanding that midwives have a very different role than, for example, registered nurses." 

"We're certainly not asking for the same rate of pay as a high-risk care provider," she said. "We're looking for comparable pay to another low-risk care provider with a family physician being the comparator."

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

now