Frances Lankin

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Frances Lankin

Senator for Ontario
Assumed office
March 18, 2016
Nominated byJustin Trudeau
Appointed byDavid Johnston
Member of the Legislative Assembly of Ontario
In office
Preceded byfirst member
Succeeded byMichael Prue
ConstituencyBeaches—East York
In office
Preceded byMarion Bryden
Succeeded byriding dissolved
Personal details
Born (1954-04-16) April 16, 1954 (age 65)
London, Ontario
Political partyIndependent Senators Group
Other political
New Democratic (1990-2016)
Spouse(s)Wayne Campbell
ResidenceRestoule, Ontario

Frances Lankin, PC CM (born April 16, 1954),[1] is a Canadian senator, former president and CEO of United Way Toronto, and a former Ontario MPP and cabinet minister in the NDP government of Bob Rae between 1990 and 1995. From 2010 to 2012, she co-chaired a government commission review of social assistance in Ontario. From 2009 to 2016, she was a member of the Security Intelligence Review Committee.

Lankin was appointed to the Senate on March 18, 2016 on the advice of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.[2]


Lankin was born in London, Ontario.[3] She started her career as the executive director of a childcare centre before attending the University of Toronto to study criminology. Due to a provincial government hiring freeze, Lankin was unable to get a position in her desired field working in probation and parole, so she accepted a position as a correctional officer.[3] Lankin was one of the first women correctional officers to work at the Don Jail, an all-male institution.[4] After four years, Lankin became a probation and parole officer before taking a position with the Ontario Public Service Employees Union (OPSEU).

Lankin was a very active member of OPSEU, where she focused on many issues of concern to women workers. She took a position as Equal Opportunity Coordinator with the union, working on such issues as paid maternity leave, pay equity and childcare.[5] While at OPSEU, Lankin helped found the Ontario Coalition for Better Childcare and was provincial spokesperson for the Equal Pay Coalition. She eventually became an economic researcher and finally a full-time negotiator for the union.[6] During her time at OPSEU, Lankin was appointed by the provincial government to the Workers' Compensation Appeals Tribunal for a 3-year term.[4]

Provincial Politics[edit]

In government[edit]

In 1985, Lankin tried to gain the nomination as the NDP candidate in the riding of Riverdale. She lost to David Reville who went on to win the seat.[6][7]

Lankin was elected Member of Provincial Parliament (MPP) for the Toronto riding of Beaches—Woodbine in the 1990 provincial election, succeeding Marion Bryden who retired from politics.[8] The NDP under Bob Rae won its first-ever majority government in this election, and Lankin, then thirty-six years old, was appointed to cabinet on October 1, 1990 as Minister of Government Services and Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet.[9] She announced that same-sex spouses of civil servants would be eligible for insurance and medical benefits.[10]

Lankin was promoted to Minister of Health on April 22, 1991.[11] She soon developed a reputation as one of the most proficient ministers in Rae's government, and won praise for her attention to administrative detail. She managed to bring the $17 billion health budget under control by reducing out-of-province charges to OHIP and reducing costs for the province's drug benefit plan. She also increased funding for AIDS initiatives and made it easier for Ontario residents to receive treatment for drug and alcohol addiction.[12] She also became one of Rae's most trusted ministers, and a part of his "inner circle".

On February 3, 1993, Lankin was shifted to the position of Minister of Economic Development and Trade.[13]

The Rae government was defeated in the provincial election of 1995, although Lankin was re-elected in Beaches-Woodbine by about 3,000 votes over her nearest opponent.[14] After the election she was named finance critic and party whip.[15]

Cabinet positions[edit]

Ontario Provincial Government of Bob Rae
Cabinet posts (3)
Predecessor Office Successor
Ministry created[a] Minister of Economic Development and Trade
Also Responsible for telecommunications.
Bill Saunderson
Evelyn Gigantes Minister of Health
Ruth Grier
Chris Ward Minister of Government Services
also Chair of Management Board
Fred Wilson

Leadership race[edit]

When Rae resigned as NDP leader in 1996, Lankin declared herself a candidate to succeed him.[16] She was regarded as the frontrunner in this race, and was strongly supported by senior members of the Rae government and the party establishment. However, this identification actually damaged her popularity among party delegates who were disappointed by the rightward shifts of the Rae government. Rival candidate Peter Kormos accused her in the leadership debate of bearing responsibility for the "social contract" — which forced open collective bargaining agreements with public sector unions and was deeply unpopular with labour — and for the Rae government's abandonment of a promise to institute a publicly run auto insurance system.

Lankin's actual position in relation to the "social contract" was somewhat complicated. She initially opposed the Rae government's plans to revisit existing labour contracts, and personally warned Rae of the fallout that would result from organized labour. She later considered resigning from cabinet over the issue on two separate occasions, but ultimately chose to remain because (she argued) it would give her the opportunity to moderate the legislation. She did, in fact, replace Rae's initial plans for outright wage rollbacks with requirements that workers above a certain income level take unpaid leave days. Even in this moderated form, however, the legislation was highly unpopular and strained the NDP's relations with the labour movement.

As a result of criticisms from Kormos and others, many of Lankin's potential supporters went to rival candidate Howard Hampton, who had also been a cabinet minister in the Rae government, but was not part of Rae's inner circle. Hampton defeated Lankin on the third ballot by fewer than 200 votes.

In opposition[edit]

While in opposition, she wrote and submitted a private-members' bill banning the use of restraints on elderly patients. Her bill was unanimously carried by all parties in the Legislature and became one of two private members bills submitted and passed by Lankin, a very rare accomplishment for a third-party opposition MPP. She was inspired to propose the bill after discovering that her own mother suffering from dementia had been tied to her bed in a Toronto area hospital.[17]

In the 1999 Ontario election, which reduced the NDP to only nine seats, Lankin scored a convincing re-election victory in the redistributed riding of Beaches—East York.[18] Lankin resigned her seat in June 2001 to accept a position as president and CEO of United Way Toronto.[19]

United Way Toronto[edit]

Lankin was the president and CEO of United Way Toronto from 2001 to 2011, guiding the organization through its transformation from a trusted fundraiser to an organization dedicated to addressing underlying root causes of social problems. Under Lankin’s leadership, United Way Toronto engaged in a number of strategic initiatives that aimed to improve the lives of individuals, families and neighbourhoods in Toronto, including:

  • a five-year plan to develop social infrastructure and engage residents in priority neighbourhoods identified in conjunction with the City of Toronto
  • partnerships with government, business and labour to focus attention and resources on United Way Toronto’s key priority areas: neighbourhoods, youth and newcomers
  • development of social research reports such as Losing Ground: The Persistent Growth of Family Poverty in Canada’s Largest City, Decade of Decline: Poverty and Income Inequality in the City of Toronto in the 1990s and Poverty by Postal Code: The Geography of Neighbourhood Poverty to identify and highlight challenges faced by the most underserved inner-suburbs of Toronto
  • building and strengthening United Way Toronto’s network of health and social service agencies through funding and development of agency capacity and leadership
  • mobilization of the community’s volunteer and financial resources

Lankin retired from the United Way in 2011.[20]

Other work[edit]

In addition to her role at United Way, Lankin has served on several Crown, not-for-profit, charitable and corporate boards. Over the years, she has served on the boards of Equal Voice, The Canadian Club, The Canadian Foundation for Economic Education (CFEE), Altruvest Charitable Services Seneca College, the Toronto City Summit Alliance, the University of Toronto's School of Public Policy Advisory Committee, the Board of the Ontario Hospital Association, the Board of the Literary Review of Canada, the Mowat Centre’s Advisory Committee, the National NewsMedia Council, the Ontario Press Council, the Institute of Corporate Directors,  the TELUS Toronto Community Board, Metrolinx, Hydro One and the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. She co-chaired the Toronto City Summit in June 2002 and 2003.

In 2006, she co-chaired a federal government Blue Ribbon Panel, which made recommendations for improving how the federal government distributes grants and contributions to charities and other organizations.

In 2009, Lankin was sworn into the Queen's Privy Council of Canada, appointed by prime minister Stephen Harper as a member of the Security Intelligence Review Committee, which provides an external review of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service.

In 2010, the provincial government of Ontario announced the appointment of Lankin and Munir Sheikh to lead the Commission for the Review of Social Assistance in Ontario, as part of the province’s poverty reduction strategy. They released a report, Brighter Prospects: Transforming Social Assistance in Ontario, in 2012 with their findings.

In 2012, Lankin was named a Trudeau mentor by the Pierre Elliot Trudeau Foundation, and in 2013, she became a fellow at the Broadbent Institute.

In 2014, Lankin was appointed to the Premier's Advisory Council on Government Assets, whose mandate was to review and identify opportunities to modernize government business enterprises.


On June 29, 2012, Lankin was made a Member of the Order of Canada. Her citation reads, "For her contributions to social justice as a politician and as a social service administrator, championing the rights of women and the disadvantaged."[21] She has received numerous awards including honorary Doctor of Laws degrees from Queen's UniversityRyerson University and the University of Windsor, as well as a Doctor of Education from Nipissing University.

Other awards Lankin has received include:

  • 2002 – Elizabeth Fry Society of Toronto – Rebel for a Cause
  • 2003 – Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal
  • 2004 – United Way Canada’s - Award of Excellence
  • 2006 – Carlton University, Arthur Kroger Award for Policy
  • 2007 – Canadian Public Relations Society - CEO Award of Excellence in Public Relations
  • 2008 – GTA Consumer’s Choice - Women of the Year Award
  • 2008 – CA-Queen's Centre for Governance Voluntary Sector Reporting Award For Excellence in Financial Reporting
  • 2008 – Equal Voice’s - EVE Award
  • 2008 – More Magazine’s - Top 40 over 40 Women in Canada
  • 2009 - CA-Queen's Centre for Governance Voluntary Sector Reporting Award For Excellence in Financial Reporting
  • 2009 – Italian Canadian Chamber of Commerce’ Community Building Award
  • 2010 – Community Service Award – Black Action Defence Committee
  • 2010 – Tropicanna President’s Award
  • 2010 – Herb Carnegie Foundation – Future Aces Lifetime Achievement Award
  • 2010 - CA-Queen's Centre for Governance Voluntary Sector Reporting Award For Excellence in Financial Reporting
  • 2011 – Toronto Community Social Planning Committee – Community Leadership Award
  • 2012 – Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal

Federal Politics[edit]

Lankin was appointed to the Senate on March 18, 2016 on the advice of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.

She currently sits on the Senate Committee on Legal and Constitutional Affairs and the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Joint Parliamentarians. She previously served on the Senate Committee on Aboriginal Peoples, the Senate Committee on Internal Economy, Budgets and Administration, the Senate Committee on Senate Modernization, the Senate Committee on Rules, Procedures and the Rights of Parliament and the Senate Committee on National Security and Defence.

Lankin has sponsored four bills in the Senate:

Electoral record[edit]

Provincial record[edit]

1999 Ontario general election
Party Candidate Votes % ±
New Democratic Frances Lankin 19,703 45.9 +3.5
Progressive Conservative Judy Burns 12,776 29.8 -1.1
Liberal Bill Buckingham 9,332 21.8 -2.3
Green Michael Schulman 431 1.0 -
Family Coalition Dan Largy 264 0.6 -
Natural Law Donalda G. Fredeen 230 0.5 -0.1
Independent Steve Rutchinski 164 0.4 -
1995 Ontario general election
Party Candidate Votes % ±
New Democratic Frances Lankin 10,862 42.4 -16.0
Progressive Conservative Lynda Buffett 7,923 30.9 +16.6
Liberal Stephen Lautens 6,158 24.1 -1.6
Independent Brad Allen 319 1.2 -
Communist Miguel Figueroa 169 0.7
Natural Law Donalda G. Fredeen 162 0.6 -
1990 Ontario general election
Party Candidate Votes % ±
New Democratic Frances Lankin 14,381 58.4 -
Liberal Beryl Potter 6,329 25.7 -
Progressive Conservative Kevin Forest 3,535 14.3 -
Independent Sam Vitulli 400 1.6 -

1996 leadership convention[edit]

Candidate 1st ballot 2nd ballot 3rd ballot
Name Votes cast % Votes cast % Votes cast %
Howard Hampton 649 33.7 806 43.4 971 55.0
Frances Lankin 611 31.7 691 36.3 793 45.0
Peter Kormos 434 22.5 402 21.1
Tony Silipo 232 12.0
Total 1,926 100.0 1,899 100.0 1,764 100.0



  1. ^ The ministry was created from the old Ministry of Industry, Trade and Technology led by Ed Philip.


  1. ^ Crone, Greg (February 9, 1996). "Lankin to run for top NDP job". Kingston Whig - Standard. p. 6.
  2. ^
  3. ^ a b "Focus On: NDP leadership: Meet the candidates". The Windsor Star. March 18, 1996. p. A5.
  4. ^ a b Polanyi, Margaret (May 25, 1991). "Rookie minister thrives on work Lankin juggles duties as health, management board chief". The Globe and Mail. p. A6.
  5. ^ Hynes, Mary (May 7, 1982). "Province not hiring women: Rae". The Globe and Mail. p. 11.
  6. ^ a b "Reville gets nod to run in Riverdale". The Globe and Mail. March 6, 1985. p. M3.
  7. ^ "Results of vote in Ontario election". The Globe and Mail. May 3, 1985. p. 13.
  8. ^ "Ontario election: Riding-by-riding voting results". The Globe and Mail. September 7, 1990. p. A12.
  9. ^ "Ontario cabinet". The Windsor Star. October 1, 1990. p. A4.
  10. ^ Rand Dyck (1997). David Leyton-Brown (ed.). Canadian Annual Review of Politics and Public Affairs (1990). Toronto: University of Toronto Press. p. 153.
  11. ^ "New health chief named for Ontario". The Vancouver Sun. April 22, 1991. p. A7.
  12. ^ R.D. Dyck (1998). David Leyton-Brown (ed.). Canadian Annual Review of Politics and Public Affairs: (1991). Toronto: University of Toronto Press. pp. 147–8.
  13. ^ "Ontario cabinet". The Hamilton Spectator. February 4, 1993. p. A2.
  14. ^ "Summary of Valid Ballots by Candidate". Elections Ontario. June 8, 1995. Archived from the original on March 9, 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  15. ^ Lankin, Frances (September 24, 1995). "NDP finance critic's view: Government must start to focus on real, not invented, crises". The Ottawa Citizen. p. A11.
  16. ^ "Former NDP minister Frances Lankin will make bid for leadership". The Spectator. Hamilton, Ont. February 9, 1996. p. B6.
  17. ^ Boyle, Theresa (June 28, 2001). "Restraints on patients curbed as Ontario approves new law ; Lankin's private member's bill wins full support". Toronto Star. p. A6.
  18. ^ "Summary of Valid Ballots by Candidate". Elections Ontario. June 3, 1999. Archived from the original on March 9, 2014. Retrieved 2014-03-02.
  19. ^ "United Way of Greater Toronto names new President". Canada NewsWire. June 21, 2001. p. 1.
  20. ^ "Frances Lankin stepping down as United Way head". Toronto Star, February 18, 2010.
  21. ^ "Appointments to the Order of Canada". The Governor General of Canada. June 29, 2012.

External links[edit]