Profile of Municipal Councillors in Rural Ontario

Last week the Rural Ontario Institute released its Municipal Councillor Profile, which documents demographic characteristics and shares the perspectives of municipal elected officials and staff in rural Ontario.

Key findings from the research include:

  • Ontario municipal councillors are on average older, more predominantly male, less racially diverse, with higher incomes and more education than a typical cross-section of rural community demographics
  • 75% of Ontario’s councillors and mayors are men, with men occupying 83% of the ‘heads of council’ positions
  • The median age for councillors and mayors is 60, relative to Ontario’s median age of 40, with roughly 70% of councillors falling between the ages of 50 and 70, and only 9% falling between 18 and 40
  • Barriers to candidacy in rural areas include lack of training, difficulties “learning the system,” work-life balance, and managing relationships and conflict on council

The research also proposes a number of priority action areas to improve the diversity of rural councils, including:

  • Greater pre-candidacy training
  • More rigorous and ongoing professional development
  • Formalized mentorship opportunities
  • Ensuring a positive council-staff relationship

“Attracting younger candidates, female candidates, better preparing candidates and encouraging an atmosphere of mutual respect in municipal politics are all thought to be beneficial to the overall health of the municipal political system.”

For more on healthy staff-council relations, you can read AMCTO’s Policy and Management Brief on the topic:

Michael Fenn, “Successful Staff/Council Relations: Old Lessons for New Challenges” 

Find the full Councillor Profile here.

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