TORONTO – Believe it or not, it’s already been a year since Marci Ien became Canada’s Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Youth. The former journalist caught up with Brandon to discuss her first year in office, the challenges she’s faced (and overcome!), and what she hopes to see in the next year.
Right off the bat, Ien shared that the past 12 months have been hard for her.
“There are times that I wake up in the morning and I go ‘what did I do?!’ Because how am I going to serve everybody well?” Ien explained, adding that anxiety kicks in, but she’s still happy that she made the choice to enter politics.
“There’s a lot of I call it theatre, that happens in the House, during question periods. The blustering, the looking for some sort of clip to throw up on social, or whatever it is. On both sides, on every side!” the Minister explained, but she said that is not the reason her team is in the game.
“What it’s about, and the bottom line is service. Because I’ll be the first to say Brandon if people don’t find that I’m serving them well, or that our team isn’t, we shouldn’t be here,” Ien continued.
Ien does not take her position for granted, sharing that she knows her seat at the table is important.
“Is it necessary for me to be here? Absolutely. Is it necessary to be at this table, and part of this system to help disrupt it and challenge it? Absolutely, and we need more,” she explained.
“It’s my sincere hope that somehow I’m leading by example and that others choose to go this route because they saw that it’s possible,” Ien continued.
Marci Ien & Canada’s Youth
Ien first took her seat as Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Youth on October 26th, 2022. Since then, she shared that she has received lots of support from the youth in our country.
“First and foremost it’s young people who say ‘so we can see ourselves now’,” she shared, explaining the importance of representation in politics.
She shared that young people are asking her to ensure there is cultural representation across the board, especially when it comes to access to public services. Ien shared that youth also approach her saying that they need places to hang out, explaining that they are being arrested for being out on the streets with nowhere to go.
She shared that a lack of communication has meant that smaller organizations do not realise the resources they have access to through her portfolio, and that is something her team is working to address.
Affordability for Women & Youth
Canada’s affordability crisis continues to be a growing issue as the cost of living steadily increases. This is affecting caregivers, who are predominantly women, and their children. Marci shared how her team plans to combat this issue, and support those most affected by the crisis.
“There’s always more to be done,” Ien explained.
“To permanently eliminate the interest on student loans, and apprenticeships, is a big thing. The mental stress that alleviates,” the Minister shared, adding that this allows students to focus on their studies without worrying about debt.
“International students, saying we’re no longer capping that 20-hour work week for them? Means a huge huge opportunity,” she continued.
She also touched on support for housing. The new fiscal announcement this month revealed that the federal government will be providing a $500 top-up to the Canada Housing Benefit.
“I sit there in the house and I listen to others who might say ‘It’s $500 bucks! It’s nothing!’ I’m sorry, in my constituency, and St. James Town is mostly apartment buildings, in Regent Park too, in Moss Park, that means something,” Ien explained, adding that dealing with this criticism from Conservatives is frustrating.
Ien and Brandon dug into how the federal government is supporting parents, how she would like to see the government work together, ideas for addressing food insecurity, and so much more on this episode of The Brandon Gonez Show. Let us know in the comments, which other issues would you like to see Canada’s Minister of Women and Gender Equality and Youth tackle?
*This episode was supported by Ontario Creates