It is a busy day at Queen’s Park, and a small knot of people stand in the hallway of the second floor of the legislature discussing what it takes to be a Minister, current issues falling under the domain of Government and Consumer Services, and the unique riding of Pickering – Scarborough East.
The Honourable Tracy MacCharles kindly took time out of her day to share her reflections on seven years of holding elected office. Serving as Minister of Government and Consumer Services is just the latest in a career has had many twists and turns. Starting out as an intern with the Ontario Public Service, Minister MacCharles worked for ten years as a civil servant — including a stint in the Ministry for Government and Consumer Services — before transitioning to the private sector. She worked as the human resources Vice President at Manulife, eventually going on to start her own human resources firm.
Her political career began in 2011 to represent the riding of Pickering – Scarborough East. Since then she has served as both the Parliamentary Assistant and Minister of Children and Youth Services, as well as the Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues. Today, in addition to Government and Consumer Services, she also the Minister Responsible for Accessibility.
During our wide-ranging hallway discussion, Minister MacCharles spoke about having a good understanding of how government works is essential for a Minister. She also praised the initiative of fellow caucus members who have introduced private member’s legislation falling under the purview of Government and Consumer Services. The Minister described how she has worked with the aim of making Ontario a national leader on issues such as gender identity – it is now possible for those who identify as non-binary to get a driver’s license with “X” instead of “F” or “M”. Another area in which she sees Ontario leading is accessibility, and she is proud to help support the implementation of the Accessibility for Ontarians with Disabilities Act, 2005.
Minister MacCharles also spoke about her riding, Pickering – Scarborough East. It is unique because it is bisected by the City of Toronto boundary, and therefore encompasses part of Scarborough in the East and the City of Pickering in the West. The duality of her riding gives her two distinctive perspectives, and she makes a point of being present for both her Pickering and Scarborough constituents.
We’d very much like to thank the Hon. Tracy MacCharles for taking the time to speak with us, and we wish her all the best on the next stage of her career!