By RON FANFAIR
She has served with distinction in every facet of public life. It’s not surprising therefore that former Ontario Minister Mary Anne Chambers is being honoured with a YWCA Woman of Distinction award for community service.
“This is quite an honour,” said Chambers who will receive an honorary doctorate from the University of Toronto in June. “The YWCA does some wonderful work, specifically with women and young people. So to be recognized by them means a lot.”
A former Scotiabank senior vice-president, Chambers entered politics in 2003 and served for nearly two years as Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities. In that role, she announced the largest multi-year investment in post-secondary education in four decades and introduced major improvements to student assistance policies and funding. Significant changes were also made to the Private Career Colleges Act to provide enhanced protection for students and increased support was made available to encourage apprenticeships in the skilled trades.
During her tenure as Minister of Children and Youth Services, Chambers considerably increased the availability of child care spaces, improved access to subsidies and overhauled the province’s child protection system.
The sponsor of two basic schools in Jamaica and annual scholarships administered by the John Brooks Foundation, the Jamaican Canadian Association and the Church of the Nativity in Scarborough, Chambers currently serves on the boards of the YMCA of Greater Toronto, the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) and the Project for the Advancement of Childhood Education (PACE).
Other Women of Distinction award winners this year are Rona Abramovitch, Helen Burstyn, June Dwyer, Claudine Labelle, Jane Allen, Noella Milne and Deborah Sinclair.
Established in 1981, the awards honour women for their outstanding community commitment. Funds accrued from the event go to employment, housing and counseling programs.
This year’s awards dinner takes place on May 12 at the Metro Convention Centre.