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Ontario midwives welcome ‘historic’ victory in pay equity case

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Ontario midwives won a “historic” victory in a groundbreaking pay equity case Monday, after a tribunal ruled the government’s failure to proactively monitor midwives’ compensation and regularly negotiate with them over it constitutes discrimination.

The case filed at the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario five years ago sought redress, including retroactive pay, for gender-based pay discrimination dating back to 1994, shortly after midwifery became a formally regulated part of Ontario’s public health system.

Lawyers for the Association of Ontario Midwives (AOM) argued that the profession has been chronically undervalued due to a unique “gendered trifecta” in a field that is primarily staffed by women, is concerned with providing care to women, and deals with a health care issue associated with women.

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In Monday’s ruling, tribunal chair Leslie Reaume called that description “very apt,” and ruled that there was sufficient evidence to prove gender-based discrimination between 2005 and 2013, but not earlier.

Although the AOM’s application sought a remedy dating back to 1994, policy and communications director Juana Berinstein said the decision felt like a “completely historic win.”

“It feels like a victory for midwives, for women, for equity-seeking groups. It feels like an incredible decision that really talks about systemic discrimination,” she said.

The tribunal has not yet set out any remedies but has directed the parties to negotiate a resolution over remedial pay, damages, and how compensation will be set going forward.

In 1993, the Ontario government used a pay equity analysis to set midwives’ rate of pay at 65 per cent of a community health care physician’s salary. The tribunal ruled that 2005 was the last time the government applied a gender equity lens to midwives’ pay increases.

In 2010, a report commissioned by the AOM and the Liberal government of the time found that midwives should get a 20 per cent compensation bump. The report also warned that “intermittent” or delayed negotiations with midwives were hurting their compensation.

The recommended pay increase was never implemented. Instead the government “unilaterally determined that (community health care) physicians were not appropriate comparators for midwives,” according to Monday’s tribunal decision, thereby abandoning a long-established means of determining fair compensation for midwives.

“This perpetuates the historic disadvantage midwives have experienced as sex-segregated workers. It also undermines the dignity of midwives who now find themselves having to explain why they should be compared to physicians for compensation purposes more than 20 years after this principle was established,” the decision reads.

The implication is that government must regularly take proactive steps to monitor compensation for the impact of gender discrimination on the fairness of pay.

In its application, the AOM said while “male-dominated” community health care physicians’ salaries had increased by 76 per cent since 1993, midwives’ pay increased by only 33 per cent.

“My finding … is that there is sufficient evidence to find that sex was, more likely than not, one of the factors that explains the difference in compensation levels between midwives and CHC physicians,” Reaume’s decision reads.

“While it’s not just about pay, pay is a concrete example of how we are valued in the system,” said AOM president Elizabeth Brandeis. “So it’s hard not to internalize that in terms of midwives seeing their own worth in relation to their medical colleagues and vice versa.”

In its response to the tribunal application, the Ministry of Health argued the case was about “occupational status, not sex.”

Its factum said the pay gap was based not on sex but on “important differences” between the work of community health care physicians and midwives, including the length and cost of physicians’ training and their “broader scope of practice.”

Reaume’s decision notes that midwives’ practice in Ontario has “been expanded to take advantage of their remarkable skill set and to respond to changing health care priorities, underserviced communities and vulnerable patient populations.”

“What makes the position of the (Ministry of Health) even more difficult to accept is that it promotes family physicians and midwives as comparable obstetrical providers, equally competent to care for women with normal pregnancies,” the decision reads.

The AOM has about 1,000 members in the province. Midwifery is a four-year bachelor of health sciences degree and students are trained in reproductive science, physiology and women’s health. Last year, Ontario midwives supported 24,066 births, or 16 per cent of all births in the province.

Katrina Kilroy, president of the Canadian Association of Midwives, said she simply wants the health care system to treat her profession with respect.

“Nobody does the equivalent job of a midwife. We’re on call 24-7. We sometimes work 24 hours straight. We’re with someone on the most painful day of their lives,” she said. “It’s a matter of life and death”

With files from Jacques Gallant

Sara Mojtehedzadeh is a Toronto-based reporter covering work and wealth. Follow her on Twitter: @saramojtehedz

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Nostalgia and much more with Starburst XXXtreme

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Get a taste of adventure with Starburst XXXtreme based on the legendary NetEnt Game. The nostalgic themes are sure to capture fans of the classic version as they get treated to higher intensity, better visuals, and features. The most significant element of the game is its volatility. Patience will not be an essential virtue considering the insane gameplay, and there is a lot of win potential involved. It retains the original makeup of the previous game while adding a healthy dose of adrenaline. 

Starburst Visuals and Symbols

The game is definitely more conspicuous than before. The setting happens over a 5-reel, 3-row game grid with nine fixed win lines, which function if a succession from the left to the right reel is present. Only those players that that attain the highest win per bet line are paid. From a visual standpoint, the Starburst XXXtreme slots illustrates lightning effects behind the reels, which is not surprising as it is inherited from the original version. Available themes include Classic, Jewels, and Space. The game is also available in both desktop and mobile versions, which is advantageous for players considering the global pandemic. According to Techguide, American gamers are increasingly having more engaging gaming experiences to socialize to fill the gap of in-person interaction. Starburst XXXtreme allows them to fill the social void at a time when there is so much time to be had indoors. 

Starburst XXXTreme Features

Players get to alternate on three features which are Starburst Wilds, XXXtreme Spins, and Random Wilds. The first appears on reels 2,3, or 4. When these land, they expand to cover all positions while also calculating the wins. They are also locked for a respin. If a new one hits, it also becomes locked while awarding another respin. Starburst XXXtreme offers a choice between two scenarios for a higher stake. In one scenario with a ten times stake, the Starburst Wild is set on random on reels 2,3, or 4, and a multiplier starts the respin. The second scenario, which has a 95 times stake, starts with two guaranteed starburst wilds on reels 2,3, or 4. it also plays out using respin game sequence and features. The game also increases the potential with the Random Wilds feature to add Starburst Wilds to a vacant reel at the end of a spin. Every Starburst Wild gives a random multiplier with potential wins of x2, x3, x5, x10, x25, x50, x100, or even x150.

The new feature is sure to be a big hit with the gaming market as online gambling has shown significant growth during the lockdown. AdAge indicates the current casino customer base is an estimated one in five Americans, so Starburst XXXtreme’s additional features will achieve considerable popularity. 

What We Think About The Game

The gambling market has continued to diversify post-pandemic, so it is one of the most opportune times to release an online casino-based game. Thankfully Starburst XXXtreme features eye-catching visuals, including the jewels and space themes. These attract audience participation and make the gameplay inviting. The game also has a nostalgic edge. The previous NetEnt iteration featured similar visuals and gameplay, so the audience has some familiarity with it. The producers have revamped this version by tweaking the features to improve the volatility and engagement. 

That is characterized by the potential win cap of 200,000 times the bet. Starburst XXXtreme does not just give betting alternatives for players that want to go big. The increase of multipliers also provides a great experience. If the respins in the previous version were great, knowing that multipliers can go hundreds of times overtakes the game to a new level. 

Players should get excited about this offering. All of the features can be triggered within a single spin. Whether one plays the standard game or takes the XXXtreme spin route, it is possible to activate all of the features. Of course, the potential 200,000 times potential is a huge carrot. However, the bet size is probably going to be restricted and vary depending on the casino. It is also worth pointing out that a malfunction during the gameplay will void all of the payouts and progress. Overall, the game itself has been designed to provide a capped win of 200,000 times the original bet. 

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Anglais

‘We’re back’: Montreal festival promoters happy to return but looking to next year

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In downtown Montreal, it’s festival season.

In the city’s entertainment district, a musical act was conducting a sound check on stage Friday evening — the second day of the French-language version of the renowned Just For Laughs comedy festival. Tickets for many of the festival’s free outdoor shows — limited by COVID-19 regulations — were sold out.

Two blocks away, more than 100 people were watching an acoustic performance by the Isaac Neto Trio — part of the last weekend of the Festival International Nuits d’Afrique, a celebration of music from the African continent and the African diaspora.

With COVID-19 restrictions continuing to limit capacity, festival organizers say they’re glad to be back but looking forward to next year when they hope border restrictions and capacity limits won’t affect their plans.

Charles Décarie, Just For Laughs’ CEO and president, said this is a “transition year.”

“Even though we have major constraints from the public health group in Montreal, we’ve managed to design a festival that can navigate through those constraints,” Décarie said.

The French-language Juste pour rire festival began on July 15 and is followed by the English-language festival until July 31.

When planning began in February and March, Décarie said, organizers came up with a variety of scenarios for different crowd sizes, ranging from no spectators to 50 per cent of usual capacity.

“You’ve got to build scenarios,” he said. “You do have to plan a little bit more than usual because you have to have alternatives.”

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MELS new major movie studio to be built in Montreal

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MONTREAL — MELS Studios will build a new film studio in Montreal, filling some of the gap in supply to meet the demand of Hollywood productions.

MELS president Martin Carrier said on Friday that MELS 4 studio construction will begin « as soon as possible », either in the fall or winter of next year. The studio could host productions as early as spring 2023.

The total investment for the project is $76 million, with the Quebec government contributing a $25 million loan. The project will create 110 jobs, according to the company.

The TVA Group subsidiary’s project will enable it to stand out « even more » internationally, according to Quebecor president and CEO Pierre Karl Péladeau. In the past, MELS Studios has hosted several major productions, including chapters of the X-Men franchise. The next Transformers movie is shooting this summer in Montreal.

Péladeau insisted that local cultural productions would also benefit from the new facility, adding that the studio ensures foreign revenues and to showcase talent and maintain an industry of Quebec producers.

STUDIO SHORTAGE

The film industry is cramped in Montreal.

According to a report published last May by the Bureau du cinéma et de la télévision du Québec (BCTQ), there is a shortage of nearly 400,000 square feet of studio space.

With the addition of MELS 4, which will be 160,000 square feet, the company is filling part of the gap.

Carrier admitted that he has had to turn down contracts because of the lack of space, representing missed opportunities of « tens of millions of dollars, not only for MELS, but also for the Quebec economy. »

« Montreal’s expertise is in high demand, » said Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante, who was present at the announcement.

She said she received great testimonials from « Netflix, Disney, HBO and company » during an economic mission to Los Angeles in 2019.

« What stands out is that they love Montreal because of its expertise, knowledge and beauty. We need more space, like MELS 4, » she said.

There is still not enough capacity in Quebec, acknowledged Minister of Finance, the Economy and Innovation Eric Girard.

« It is certain that the government is concerned about fairness and balance, so if other requests come in, we will study them with the same seriousness as we have studied this one, » he said.

Grandé Studios is the second-largest player in the industry. Last May, the company said it had expansion plans that should begin in 2022. Investissement Québec and Bell are minority shareholders in the company.

For its part, MELS will have 400,000 square feet of production space once MELS 4 is completed. The company employs 450 people in Quebec and offers a range of services including studio and equipment rentals, image and sound postproduction, visual effects and a virtual production platform.

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