The Ontario government announced this week its target for gender diversity at provincial Crown corporations, agencies, boards and commissions. By 2019, the province wants at least 40 per cent of the appointments to be women. It also wants all Ontario businesses, by the end of 2017, to set a target of appointing 30 per cent women to their boards of directors.
Premier Kathleen Wynne said that removing barriers for women in the workplace remains a "formidable task," and this starts with her own cabinet. Ms. Wynne would like to see more women and young people, emulating the enthusiasm and youthfulness of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau's cabinet, which achieved full gender parity. In a "hypothetical shuffle," she said, she would like to have an equal number of men and women in her cabinet.
Ted McMeekin, Ontario's Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing, announced on Monday that he is resigning from his cabinet post to help the Premier and the government achieve gender parity. He will continue to serve as minister until Ms. Wynne names a replacement.
Currently, including Mr. McMeekin, there are 19 men and eight women in the cabinet, representing 70 and 30 per cent, respectively.
These numbers are fairly consistent with past Ontario cabinets. During the previous government under Liberal premier Dalton McGuinty, there was a total of 22 ministers. Sixteen were men and six were women.
In the current Ontario Legislature, there are 106 MPPs. Thirty-seven are women, which represents about 35 per cent of all the members.
Getting women involved in politics has been a long-standing issue. In the House of Commons, women occupy just 26 per cent of the seats. In local government, 28 per cent of municipal councillors are women, and just 18 per cent of Canadian mayors are women. Equal Voice, a non-partisan group that advocates for more elected women, said only 32 per cent of candidates in last year's federal election were women.
While this is an issue within corporate boards and politics, Ms. Wynne's opinion is not shared across the country.
Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister would not promise gender parity in his cabinet, saying he believes in merit rather than balance based on gender. "I don't think that it would be fair to put people who are brand new necessarily too rapidly into really extremely demanding roles in cabinet," he told The Globe and Mail in April.
Mr. Pallister told The Canadian Press that the reason for this is that there are not enough veteran women in politics.