Question Period: Women’s Equality – December 11, 2014

Women’s Equality


Mr. Coon: My question is for the Premier in his capacity as Minister responsible for Women’s Equality. As we all know, women are severely underrepresented in this Legislative Assembly and in most decision-making bodies in society. The speech from the throne commits to taking steps to ensure that the voices of women are heard on policy-making bodies, a commitment I support. Will the Premier give consideration to providing the Voices of New Brunswick Women Working Group a mandate and appropriate resources to engage in the policy-making process in New Brunswick?

L’hon. M. Gallant : Je remercie le député d’en face pour sa très bonne question. Je suis d’accord avec lui qu’il y a une sous-représentation des femmes ici, à la Chambre. Les femmes sont en outre sous-représentées au Parlement et même dans les fonctions de maire au Nouveau-Brunswick. C’est un problème qui, malheureusement, se retrouve à divers paliers de gouvernement, et il nous faut travailler ensemble en vue d’y remédier.

I think it is a very good question. Yes, indeed, we are very committed to trying to find ways to increase women’s ability to be in positions of influence. Being in the Legislature is certainly one of them. I, as Leader of the Liberal Party and certainly as Premier, am willing to listen to any ideas and suggestions that will help us to accomplish that here in the Legislature and, hopefully, even outside these walls. When it comes to the forum specifically, yes, we want to have it properly funded and we want to have it independent. We believe that that is important and that it can play an important role in feeding some of the suggestions on how we can better the lives of women.

Mr. Speaker: Time, Mr. Premier.

Mr. Coon: While the Premier’s commitment to appoint more women to agencies, boards, and commissions is a positive step, I would like to know how he intends to bring this about. Can the Premier outline the process by which more women will be appointed to agencies, boards, and commissions?

L’hon. M. Gallant : Pour en finir avec la question précédente, je veux ajouter, si possible, qu’il est important que le Forum de concertation des Voix des femmes du Nouveau-Brunswick soit indépendant et bien financé.

It needs to be able to be funded and to be independent and to be able to do the research that it needs to do to find out what the status of women is in the province and to find out where there are gaps and how we can fill them. That is why this is important to us.

I just want to make one last point, and I will try to get to the specific question. This is important, not only because it is the right thing to do and it is going to help women in the province but also because it is going to deliver better results for us. It is proven that when women are involved in organizations, those organizations deliver better results. That is one of the reasons we want to do it. It is also for our economy.

Specifically, there will be details to come on exactly how we will ensure that we have more women appointed to ABCs. We can tell you that there is the political will on this side of the Legislature to make sure that is always in the back of our minds when we are making appointments.

M. Coon: Je sais que le premier ministre est satisfait par rapport à l’idée d’avoir un petit Cabinet et qu’il s’engage à promouvoir l’égalité des femmes. Je pense que c’est pour cette raison qu’il a lui-même pris le rôle de ministre responsable de l’Égalité des femmes. Cependant, dans un avenir rapproché, il semble évident que ce rôle sera attribué à une femme. Ma question pour le premier ministre est la suivante : Quand une femme sera-t-elle nommée ministre responsable de l’Égalité des femmes?

Hon. Mr. Gallant: I certainly agree with the content of the previous questions and with the importance of ensuring that we fund this properly and also that we ensure that the forum is independent and that we have a voice for women. I certainly also believe that we have a role to play in appointing more women to agencies, boards, and commissions. That is one way that we have to contribute to ensuring that women are in positions of influence within our society, within government, and within New Brunswick.

However, I may disagree a little bit. I think it is a good sign—and I would like to think it is helpful—that the Minister responsible for Women’s Equality is I myself, in the Premier’s Office. Obviously, we can have more resources coming from the Premier’s Office, which I think is a good thing. Obviously, it also allows the ministers who are women in our Cabinet to bring their perspectives to Cabinet and to their portfolios. It also encourages me, as Premier, to try to do that as well. Although I will not be able to do it as well as they could, I am sure, I do believe that it contributes to helping the status of women in our province.