For women in Canada and around the world, the struggle for pay equality is really real. But one industry in Ontario has it worse than anyone else and now they're finally doing something about it.
Midwives are highly educated women and men who support mothers during and after pregnancy and deliver babies in hospitals, birthing centres, and in people's home, often using more natural pain relief and birthing techniques. But despite the intense and high-risk nature of their jobs, midwives in Canada are severely underpaid.
In order to be a midwife in Canada, you have to complete a four year Bachelor program that is only offered at seven schools across Canada, Laurentian, McMaster, Ryerson, UBC, University College of The North, Mount Royal University, and Universite du Quebec.
After that, in their career midwives have to be ready to be on call 24/7, completely sacrificing their sleep schedules, maintain regular training and certifications, and handle extremely stressful situations (i.e. childbirth) regularly. And yet, at the end of the day, the average salary of a midwife in Canada is anywhere from $60, 000 to $80, 000 annually.
Like doctors and other healthcare professionals, midwives and their salaries are regulated by the provinces, so what an Ontario midwife earns would be different than a BC midwife and some provinces have it better than others.
In Alberta for example, midwives can earn a solid $120,000/year but in BC a midwife's income is only $80,000 - 90,000. In Ontario, it is closer to salaries in Alberta, as midwives can also earn up to or just a little more than $100,000. But even though those numbers don't seem so too bad, they are astronomically lower than other healthcare professionals.
For midwives, those six-figure salaries are the top end of what they could earn, meaning only the most experienced and qualified midwives are earning over $100,000 annually. Meanwhile, Doctors, such as OBGYNs are earning more than double those numbers.
There are a few reasons for this. One factor is the different types of certifications, for example, OBGYNs are allowed and trained to perform medical interventions like C-sections. But there are some more concerning factors in the massive wage gap as well.
Most healthcare jobs, including nurses and doctors, have seen several gradual increases over the years, just like other public sector positions. But for midwives, their salaries have been frozen for way too long.
BC midwife salaries prior to 2010 had been frozen since 2006. In Ontario, the situation is even worse with salaries being frozen, or not increasing at all, since 2005. A report that was done in 2010 even found that while salaries for doctors, nurses, and other public jobs in Ontario increased steadily, midwives stayed the same. The gap grew so big that the report recommended midwife salaries need to be increased by 20% to keep up.
The Ontario Midwives Association says there is one more reason why their salary has been so low. They believe part of it is gender discrimination. In Canada the majority of midwives are female, and that's why the Ontario midwives say they don't make as much money as doctors.
In a tweet posted today, the Ontario association said that their midwives make only 52 cents to every dollar men in Ontario make, which is a concerningly large gap.
It's shocking, we know! Ontario midwives are paid at most 52 cents on the male-dollar. Pay equity is long #overdue! Join our fight for justice. Take part in our Day of Action on September 27. Rally at Queen's Park, Toronto 12:15-2pm. @EqualPayON @womensmarch @cdnwomenfdn pic.twitter.com/ocacXqJiCE
After years of being underpaid, Ontario midwives are understandably livid and now they're taking action. The association has organized a rally at Queen's Park in Toronto, on September 27th to call out the Ontario Government and fight for equal pay for their industry.
Midwifery is becoming highly in demand in Canada as more women are opting for more natural care and childbirth options.