FREDERICTON (GNB) – The formula for public financing of political parties will be amended to provide an incentive for parties to recruit more female candidates.

“The percentage of women in the legislature over the history of our province demonstrates that there is unequivocally a problem,” said Premier Brian Gallant, who is also the minister responsible for Women’s Equality. “Studies have shown that having more women at the decision-making table leads to better economic outcomes and governance.”

The government plans to amend the formula so that votes received by female candidates are weighted 1.5 times greater than votes received by male candidates.

This move is part of a broader set of actions aimed at enhancing the province’s democratic system.

“The proposal by the electoral reform commission will provide a real tangible incentive for parties to nominate more women as candidates,” said Gallant. “There is still much that needs to be done to have more women in positions of influence, but this is a good start to having more women sitting in the legislature.”

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.

“This is a recommendation that the Women's Council shared with the electoral reform commission based on research and consultation with local experts,” said Beth Lyons, executive director of the New Brunswick Women's Council. “Incentives are a concrete way to create systemic change within party structure, which is so often a barrier to women's participation in elected politics.”

On March 3, the commission submitted its final report to the Clerk of the Executive Council. The report contained 23 recommendations geared toward improving democracy in New Brunswick.