FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provincial government, in partnership with the New Brunswick Women’s Council and Women for 50%, hosted a reception today at the legislature to recognize and honour the 50th anniversary of the first elected female member of the legislative assembly, Brenda Robertson, and to encourage more women to participate in politics.

“As your government we are working hard on having more women sitting at decision-making tables,” said Premier Brian Gallant, who is also minister responsible for Women’s Equality. “Having more women in decision-making positions will lead to a stronger economy, educational opportunities, and health-care services. Remembering and celebrating Brenda Robertson as the first woman elected to the legislature will inspire us to work harder on improving gender equality in our province.”

Family members of Robertson joined Finance Minister Cathy Rogers, Beth Lyons, executive director of the New Brunswick Women’s Council, and Norma Dubé, representing Women for 50%, at the reception.

Robertson, originally from Sussex, was elected MLA for Albert County in 1967, the first female elected in the province. She was re-elected four times. In 1970 she was named minister of youth, becoming the first female cabinet minister. Robertson remained a member of the legislature until her appointment to the Senate in 1984 where she remained until her retirement in 2004.

“Your government wants to ensure women’s voices are strong and that women have a say in decisions that have an impact on their lives,” said Rogers. “Studies have shown that having more women at the decision-making table leads to better economic outcomes and governance.”

During the previous legislative session, the government amended a funding formula so that votes received by female candidates are weighted 1.5 times greater than votes received by male candidates to provide an incentive for parties to recruit more female candidates. Providing a financial incentive to political parties that nominate a greater number of women as candidates was one of the recommendations made by the Commission on Electoral Reform.

In addition, the provincial government is working to improve gender balance on provincial agencies, board and commissions. Between October 2014 and September 2017, the government made 628 appointments to agencies, boards and commissions. Of that number, 351 (56 per cent) were female.

Focusing on advancing women’s equality to recruit women to more positions of influence and removing barriers to access and opportunities are key elements of the New Brunswick Family Plan framework.