The provincial New Democrats will re-establish a ministry of women's equality if they form government - an initiative the party has stated will cost in the "neighbourhood of a couple million dollars." This, according to New Democrat communications officer Chris Gainor. But, when the party was previously in government, the price tag for that ministry was much higher.
According to a review of public accounts by Public Eye, between fiscal 1997/98 and 2000/01 the ministry gobbled up almost $170.8 million. And that's a concern for Liberal Langley candidate Mary Polak. "That was money that was not used, by and large, for things that amounted to direct services for women," she said.
"My main concern - when I look at a proposal like that I think we've made a really positive shift away from funding things that are primarily advocacy" toward directly funding services for women. "To me, that's the difference between our philosophy and theirs."
Asked whether New Democrats would be able to keep the proposed ministry's cost at around $2 million, Mr. Gainor responded, "At least at the beginning. The major role (of the ministry) will be to simply promote gender equality in programs across government."
But is that kind of advocacy even necessary? "I think basically there's a feeling there's still work to be done there," said Mr. Gainor.
Women's equality ministry expenses
Fiscal 1997/98 - $37,522,000
Fiscal 1998/99 - $37,393,000
Fiscal 1999/00 - $43,269,000
Fiscal 2000/01 - $52,613,000