McPhee, Midwives and YEU

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Media Release April 20, 2022

Yukon Government must deliver a healthy Midwifery Strategy

Yukon Employees’ Union has watched with interest as Minister McPhee plays dodge and weave to avoid any responsibility for the overdue implementation of the Yukon’s midwifery program. Choosing to bargain in the media is not our usual strategy, but as the minister has used the collective bargaining process to shield the government’s mismanagement, we must respond.

As part of the larger bargaining process, YEU has looked to improve conditions for all front- line workers through the establishment of a stand-alone classification system and pay grid. This is important for many reasons, but in the context of the midwifery conversation reflects the fact that the wage offered to prospective Yukon midwives is the lowest in the North, and one of the lowest wage packages offered in Canada. This is a field of practice in high demand, and there are simply not enough licensed midwives in the country to satisfy the need.

This government knowingly offered a wage package well below par, and their proposed $12k “market adjustment” was an inadequate response. Not just because it STILL does not bring the wage up to a level equivalent with other regions, but because a market adjustment does not increase the base wage and is not pensionable. Midwives are highly trained professionals who deserve to be treated with respect. The dismal wage is only one of a series of barriers to practice imposed by Minister McPhee’s department.

We take issue with:

  1. Sub-par wages and an unwillingness to consider a reclassification of the base wage to reflect market values.
  2. YG’s refusal to include a (still too low) “market adjustment” in the pensionable base wage.
  3. Licensing requirements that harm communities and which no experienced service provider can meet.
  4. Prior to April 1, no candidate would have been able to secure the privileges required for employment; hospital bylaws were only changed April 1 of 2022 to permit granting privileges to midwives.
  5. The employer’s refusal to consider our hours-of-work proposal for midwives reflecting the demands of the work and the need to protect work-life balance.

To anyone working in the field, the regulatory requirements and wage offerings seem designed to ensure no midwifery program could launch successfully in the Yukon.  It appears to be set up to fail, and the Minister is choosing to blame everyone but her own department for that failure.

We believe midwives and the services they provide will enhance our communities and complement the services offered by practising medical personnel. We also believe that compensation must reflect the education, training, skills and responsibility of the role.

We look forward to continuing this discussion with the Yukon government at the bargaining table.

 

Steve Geick, President
Yukon Employees' Union

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