Right now almost 90 percent of Canadians live in provinces or territories with female premiers.
This is a sure indication that Canada's provincial governments are in for a rough ride.
It's sometimes called the glass cliff: men are chosen to lead in prosperous times; women are selected to be leaders in times of crisis. Iceland elected its first female prime minister when faced with economic collapse; a UK study found women were selected as candidates for hard to win seats. Starship USS Voyager had a female captain when it was lost in the delta quadrant, with little hope of ever returning home.
Why do women rise to leadership positions in times of crisis? One theory is that, in hard times, organizations seek to disrupt the status quo. Appointing a female leader shakes things up. Another theory is that stereotypically female skills, such as motivating employees and negotiating, are better suited to crisis management.
[A third possibility is that women achieve leadership positions when men do not want them. In 2012, the Ontario premier's salary was $208,974. That's a lot less than the $394,999.92 that Allan Rock, the politician-turned-president at the University of Ottawa, made that year. Perhaps women are achieving political leadership because the most capable men are pursuing other, more lucrative, opportunities.]
Are Canada's female premiers staring at a glass cliff? Livio di Matteo has described the precarious state of Ontario's finances, in particular, in several posts, such as this one. Alex Usher has a good post on the subject here.
Right now all of the provinces and territories except for Newfoundland, Saskatchewan and Yukon are running deficits (so perhaps Newfoundland does not fit the female leader in times of crisis theory). It is extremely difficult, particularly for small jurisdictions, to increase tax rates:
There is even less room for maneouver on the spending side. The issue is health care - defined broadly to include long-term care. Canada has a very pronounced baby boom - a big bulge of people born between 1947 and 1962 (when the birth control pill was introduced). That oldest members of that cohort are now 66. As people get age, their health care needs increase. Pick your metaphor. Health care as Pac Man, that gobbles up the provincial budget. An Alice Through the Looking Glass world: "Now, here, you see, it takes all the running you can do, to keep in the same place. If you want to get somewhere else, you must run at least twice as fast as that!"
Looking on the bright side, though, Captain Janeway did bring Starship Voyageur back to Earth.