The only female city councillor in Fredericton is on a mission to get more women, newcomers and people of colour involved in local politics.
“Women are more than half of the Fredericton population and currently in the elected body there is less than eight per cent of representation by women,” said Coun. Kate Rogers, who represents Ward 11.
In July 2019, the city put forward only male nominees for the New Brunswick Exhibition land development committee.
That, Rogers says, is when she began her crusade, joining the Ad Hoc Gender Diversity Committee.
Their task was to develop a series of resolutions that would increase gender sensitivity at the council table and increase diversity in appointed committees.
Fast forward to January 2020 and Fredericton city council voted unanimously to adopt seven recommendations from the advisory committee; four from their mandate to look at gender awareness and sensitivity and three from their mandate to increase representation.
The gender sensitivity resolutions include:
- Adopt the Fredericton Council Code of Conduct bylaw and policy.
- Provide on-going professional development for councillors and committee members.
- Require the completion of the GBA+ online training course for all chairs of committees.
- Amend the Administrative Report to include a GBA+ lens.
According to the City of Fredericton, GBA+ is a tool that is used to asses how diverse groups may experience policies, programs and initiatives.
It’s a tool that the Government of Canada has used since 1995
The representation resolutions include:
- A review current practices for requesting applications for appointments to committees.
- Review the current appointment process and propose changes based on best practices.
- Create gender-friendly procedural bylaws and administrative policies.
For Rogers, seeing the council adopt a number of the committee’s resolutions was a step forward to creating more inclusive public policy.
“These resolutions are significant and essential steps toward increasing gender sensitivity and diversity in committees and at all levels of municipal governance,” she said.
Other councillors have also welcomed the adoption of the resolutions.
“They went in, they put a report together, they presented it to council,” said Coun. Eric Megarity of Ward 6. “They’re done.”
Although the committee may be finished, the work they began isn’t done yet.
The Chief Administrative Officer and the Fredericton City Clerk will now develop the next steps.
“They are going to bring things back and a plan going forward on some of the things involved in the report,” said Megarity.
The New Brunswick Multicultural Council is optimistic the committee’s influence will result in more newcomers adding their names to the ballot.
“We hope the next municipal election which is the next elections that we’ll see in the province…that there will be a greater representation of the people who make up the province of New Brunswick and that we continue to see the statistics increase for elections in the future at provincial federal levels,” said Ginette Gautreau, assistant director at the New Brunswick Multicultural Council.