Minister Leitch announces Advisory Council on Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders

Harper Government continues to support the success of Canadian women in business

MONTREAL, Sept. 30, 2014 /CNW/ - Today, the Honourable Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, announced the members of the Government of Canada's Advisory Council on Women Entrepreneurs and Business Leaders. The announcement was made at the Women-Owned Businesses Powering the Economy Conference in Montreal.

The mandate of the Advisory Council is to provide a forum for the exchange of views, experiences, best practices and solutions on issues related to helping women entrepreneurs succeed in starting and growing their businesses. It will be in place for two years.

This Advisory Council is the second element of the Government's initiative announced in Economic Action Plan 2014 to support women entrepreneurs. The first element of this initiative - an Expert Panel on Championing and Mentorship for Women Entrepreneurs - was announced earlier this month in Toronto. The advice and input received from both of these groups will inform the federal government's work to support women entrepreneurs.

The Advisory Council members (biographies attached) are

  • Joey Adler, Diesel Canada Inc.
  • William Downe, BMO Financial Group
  • Samuel Duboc, EdgeStone Capital
  • Nicole Faucher, Fontaine Partners LLC
  • Monique Leroux, Desjardins Group
  • Rebecca MacDonald, Just Energy Group Inc.
  • Martin McGrath, Ernst & Young
  • Carole Stephenson, Ivey Business School
  • Annette Verschuren, NRstor Inc.
  • Lynda Rose, Mary Kay Cosmetics Ltd.

Quick Facts

  • Research suggests that 88% of entrepreneurs with mentors survive in business, compared with a 50% failure rate without a mentor.
  • In 2011, women held majority ownership of 15.6% of small and medium-sized businesses in Canada.
  • RBC Economics reports that as of 2011, the contribution of majority-owned women's businesses to the Canadian economy was an estimated $148 billion.
  • RBC estimates that a 10% increase in the number of majority-owned women's businesses over 10 years would bring the total economic contribution to $198 billion – a net annual gain of $15 billion after inflation.
  • According to BMO Financial Group, women-owned businesses employ over 1.5 million Canadians.
  • Economic Action Plan 2014 outlined the Government's commitment to increasing mentorship among women entrepreneurs.


"Our Government knows that when women succeed, Canada succeeds. That's why one of our priorities is supporting the success of women-led businesses that help create jobs and growth in communities across our country. I look forward to collaborating with this new Advisory Council on best practices and solutions to help women entrepreneurs start and grow their businesses."

The Honourable Dr. K. Kellie Leitch
Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women

Additional Links

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Members of Advisory Council

Joey Adler, CEO, Diesel Canada Inc; Founder, ONEXONE Foundation

Joey Adler is President and CEO of Diesel Canada Inc., which she co-launched in 1986 and helped develop into one of Canada's most sought-after fashion labels. An innovative entrepreneur and humanitarian, she also recently co-founded Industrial Revolution (IRII), an environmentally and socially responsible business model for apparel manufacturing. IRII recently launched a state-of-the-art garment factory in Haiti that is designed to improve the lives of its employees. Among her many accomplishments, Ms. Adler is also the founder of the ONEXONE Foundation, which seeks to improve the lives of children in Canada, the US and around the world. Selected one of "Canada's Most Powerful Women: Top 100™" in 2011, she currently sits on the Board of Trustees of Partners in Health and on the Board of Dress for Success in NYC.

William Downe, Chief Executive Officer, BMO Financial Group

William Downe was appointed CEO of BMO Financial Group on March 1, 2007. He joined the Bank of Montreal in 1983 and has held senior management positions in Canada and the U.S. Mr. Downe serves on several boards of directors including Manpower Inc., Catalyst Inc., the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, and the International Monetary Conference. He is also on the board of Toronto's St. Michael's Hospital Foundation. He served as Chairman of the 2009 Campaign Cabinet for United Way of Greater Toronto. Mr. Downe holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Wilfrid Laurier University and a Masters of Business Administration from the University of Toronto. In 2003, he received the Distinguished Business Alumni Award from the Rotman School of Management.

Samuel Duboc, EdgeStone Capital, Chairperson of the Board, BDC

Samuel Dubuc is co-founder and CEO of EdgeStone Capital Partners, one of Canada's leading private equity firms. Prior to starting EdgeStone, Mr. Dubuc was a managing director at CIBC Capital Partners and also co-founder and COO of the Loyalty Group Inc. (Air Miles Reward Program). In 2013, he served as the Clifford Clark Visiting Economist and was appointed Special Advisor on Venture Capital to the Department of Finance Canada. Among his many appointments and contributions, Mr. Dubuc is chairman of the Business Development Bank of Canada. An active member of the community, he is also co-founder and chairman of Pathways to Education and co-chairman and co-founder of the Pecaut Centre for Social Impact. Mr. Dubuc holds a BSc from Tufts University and an MBA from Harvard Business School.

Nicole Faucher, Chief Executive Officer, Fontaine Partners LLC

Nicole Faucher is the CEO and Founder of Fontaine Partners. In her thirty year career as a fiduciary, she has invested in all major asset classes on a global basis including in Asia and Europe. Prior to founding Fontaine, Ms. Faucher was the Founder and CEO of, a financial technology company. She also served as President and Senior Consultant at RV Juhns, Managing Director with SEI Capital, and Senior Vice President at Alliance Bernstein. Ms. Faucher holds a Bachelor of Commerce in Finance from the University of Saskatchewan. Following her graduation, Ms. Faucher was the President of AIESEC Canada and co-founder of AIESEC India. AIESEC is an international non-profit organization that provides young people with leadership opportunities to become global leaders able to make a difference in society.

Monique Leroux, Chair of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of Desjardins Group

Monique Leroux has been Chair of the Board, President and CEO of Desjardins Group since March 2008. A member of senior management since 2001, Ms. Leroux was previously President of Desjardins Financial Corporation and Chief Executive Officer of its subsidiaries. Before joining Desjardins, Ms. Leroux was Senior Executive Vice-President and COO of Quebecor Inc., Royal Bank Senior Vice-President, Quebec Division, and Senior Vice-President of Finance for the Financial Group. Her early career was with Ernst & Young. Ms. Leroux is active on several boards of directors including the European Association of Co-operative Banks, the International Cooperative Alliance, the Conference Board of Canada, and the Canadian Advisory Board of Catalyst. Ms. Leroux is a member of the Order of Canada and an Officer of the Ordre national du Québec.

Rebecca MacDonald, Executive Chairman of the Board, Just Energy Group Inc.

Rebecca MacDonald is a founder and the current Executive Chair of Just Energy Group, a Toronto-based marketer of deregulated electricity and natural gas supplying more than two million customers across Canada. Ms. MacDonald was named Canadian Woman Entrepreneur of the Year for 2002 by the Rotman School of Business.  In addition, Profit Magazine named her Canada's top woman CEO for five years running (2003-2007).  In 2003, she was named Ernst and Young's Ontario Entrepreneur of the Year. In 2009, Ms. MacDonald won the International Horatio Alger Award. That same year, she received an honourary PhD from the University of Victoria. Ms. MacDonald is involved in several charities and is Vice Chair of Mt. Sinai Hospital in Toronto, where she founded the Rebecca MacDonald Centre for Arthritis Research. She also sits on the Board of Canadian Pacific Railway.

Martin McGrath, Partner, Ernst & Young

Martin McGrath has been a partner in Advisory at Ernst & Young in Toronto since 2013. Working in the performance improvement practice, he focuses on government and public sector asset management practices. Martin returned to Canada from London, U.K., where he played a lead role in the advisory and restructuring practices of another global public accounting firm.

Carol Stephenson, Former Dean of Ivey Business School (2003-2013)

Carol Stephenson began her career at Bell Canada in 1973 after graduating from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Arts degree. She rose to become an executive in the corporation, was subsequently Vice President of Bell Canada, President and Chief Operating Officer (Americas) of BCE Media, Group Vice President, Strategic Guidance, and later President and CEO of Stentor Resource Centre Inc. She later served as President and CEO of Lucent Technologies Canada. In 2003, Ms. Stephenson joined the Richard Ivey School of Business at the University of Western Ontario. She served as Dean until her retirement in 2013. The recipient of numerous awards and honourary degrees, Ms. Stephenson was made an officer of the Order of Canada in 2009.

Annette Verschuren, Chair and Chief Executive Officer, NRStor Inc.

Annette Verschuren became Chair and CEO of NRStor Inc. in March, 2012. She was previously President of The Home Depot in Canada and Asia. Ms. Verschuren began her career as a development officer with the Cape Breton Development Corporation, was Executive vice-president with the Canada Development Investment Corporation, and was co-founder of Michaels, the arts and crafts store, before joining The Home Depot. Ms. Verschuren is currently chair of the Clean Energy Task Force for Ontario and serves as Chancellor of Cape Breton University. She serves on the boards of Liberty Mutual, Air Canada, Saputo, the CAMH Foundation, and the Conference Board of Canada. She was previously vice chair of the Canadian Council of Chief Executives, and was a member of the Economic Advisory Council of Canada.

Lynda Rose - General Manager, Mary Kay Cosmetics Ltd.

Lynda Rose became General Manager of Mary Kay Cosmetics Ltd. on August 1, 2014. She previously served as Vice President of Sales and Marketing, and has worked at Mary Kay for 16 years. Ms. Rose's involvement with the Direct Sellers Association of Canada (DSA) and direct selling in general has improved entrepreneurship opportunities for women across the country. She has served as chair of the DSA Board and was honoured with the Ivan P. Phelan award in 2010. She was one of four Mary Kay employees to receive the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal for their contributions to the direct selling industry. Today, she serves on the Boards of the DSA, the Canadian Cosmetic, Toiletry and Fragrance Association (CCTFA) and its Foundation.


SOURCE: Status of Women Canada

For further information: For media inquiries only: Andrew McGrath, Director of Communications, Office of the Hon. Dr. K. Kellie Leitch, P.C., O.Ont., M.P., Minister of Labour and Minister of Status of Women, Tel: 819-953-5646; For all other inquiries: Nanci-Jean Waugh, Director General, Communications and Public Affairs, Status of Women Canada, Tel: 819-420-6810


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