Toronto Regional Champions Protegee Program

In January 2014, the City of Toronto launched the fourth Toronto Regional Champion Campaign, the Protégée Program to help boost women’s participation in local government. All women councillors are the heart of the program where young women (protégées) are matched with women councillors (mentors) learn the job of a municipal councillor.

“This program is an excellent opportunity for young women in Toronto to get a taste of what municipal politics is about,” said Councillor Kristyn Wong-Tam (Ward 27 Toronto Centre-Rosedale). "These young women come from diverse backgrounds and experiences and this program provides them an opportunity to broaden their horizons and learn directly how the policy development and political process works.”

"Toronto’s protégée program has become a model replicated in various municipalities and has been widely promoted by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) across the country," said Councillor Pam McConnell (Ward 28 Toronto Centre-Rosedale), who has championed the initiative at FCM. This program is one of several programs undertaken in Canada to address the lack of women's participation in municipal politics as councillors and mayors.

To adequately reflect women's concerns, the United Nations defines 30 per cent female representation as the minimum required. Canada’s international ranking for women in national parliaments is at 47 out of 188 countries. At the municipal level of government in Canada, women represent 16 per cent of mayors and 26 per cent of councillors in Canada – just 24 per cent. Out of 24,113 elected municipal officials, only 5,826 are women.

The application process is now closed. If you are interested in becoming a protégée in the future, email us at

ExpandWomen in government

Facts and figures - women's participation in government

Canadian and local perspectives
  • According to the Inter Parliamentary Union, Canada's international ranking of women in national parliament has moved from 47th place to 40th out of 190 countries. Despite enjoying economic prosperity and political stability, Canada has 24.8 per cent of women elected to federal parliament (76 of 307 seats). The top four countries are Rwanda (56.3 per cent), Andorra (50 per cent), Cuba (45.2 per cent), and Sweden (44.7 per cent).
  • At the municipal level, Canada is at 24 per cent - 5,774 women out of 24,248 mayors and councillors.
  • In order to reach the minimum of 30 per cent female representation required for public policy to realistically reflect women's concerns (as defined by the United Nations) Canadian municipalities need at least 1,700 more women in elected office.
  • The first Toronto Regional Champion Campaign Protégée Program was launched in 2008, with 26 young women being mentored by women councillors.
  • Other countries and cities have shown great interest in this program. Equal Voice, a multi-partisan organization dedicated to electing more women in Canada, has developed a similar program based on the Toronto model.
  • The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) developed an Election Toolkit and the Regional Champion Campaign encouraging "champions" in local municipalities across Canada to recruit and help organize women to run for municipal office.
  • Modelled after the City of Toronto's Toronto Regional Champion Campaign Protégée Program, the FCM is currently working with the following four pilot communities to launch a similar program:
  1. Edmonton, Alberta: an example of a large city with significant visible minority populations;
  2. Thompson, Manitoba: a northern and remote city, with a large urban aboriginal population;
  3. Quebec City, Quebec: a Francophone community, and an example of Quebec’s party-based system of municipal politics;
  4. Wainfleet, Ontario: a small and rural municipality, in proximity to a larger urban centre.

Snapshot of Toronto

  • In Toronto, of the 44 councillors, 15 (34 per cent) are women (2010-2014 term).
  • In order to reflect the 52 per cent of the overall population that is female, at least 24 women would need to be elected to City Council in Toronto.

ExpandRegional Chamions - how it works

Toronto Regional Champion Campaign Protégée Program – how it works

Mentoring/Job Shadowing components

The program provides face-to-face interaction for the participant, to give them insight into the challenges, responsibilities and rewards of working in municipal elected office.

Participants can learn about a particular topic of municipal government by doing research with a councillor.

The participant accompanies her paired councillor to ward meetings, committee meetings and council meetings to learn about city governance. The participant will write a summary of what she has learned.


The councillors will present at least three seminars on city governance that all participants will attend. These seminars may involve guest speakers.

Education component

Each participant will arrange for at least one presentation to be made by a woman councillor to groups of women in their college, university, community centre, and/or organization to encourage them to consider running for local election in the future, describing their own experiences and offering advice.

Each participant will write and publish an article for their school, college/university, community or local newspaper describing her participation in the program in order to encourage other young women to participate in municipal politics.

Back to: Programs