Deputy Minister, Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Government of Ontario
Bachelor of Journalism (’86), Master of Arts, Political Science (’87)
Twenty-eight years ago, Laurie LeBlanc began her internship at the Government of Ontario’s Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. She had just received her Master’s degree in Political Science and thought she’d have a stopover in Toronto before heading west. She never left.
“I discovered that I loved the public service,” says Ms. LeBlanc. “I thought about being a journalist, but realized that I wanted to impact public policy in a more direct way. I wanted to make a lasting impact on the services that affect people’s lives.”
Almost three decades later, Ms. LeBlanc is the Deputy Minister in the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. Many of those who knew her as “Laurie” three decades ago now call her “Deputy”.
“What I like about the fact that I started here is that I feel like I’ve walked a mile in the shoes of the people in the Ministry,” says Ms. LeBlanc. “I understand what it feels like when your advice isn’t listened to or when you don’t receive feedback on projects you worked on. So I try to remember to thank people, to give them feedback, and to include them.”
Ms. LeBlanc’s resume reaches across the Government of Ontario. She worked in policy analysis, program delivery, and communications, and held the position of Assistant Deputy Minister in the Cabinet Office, in the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and in the Ministry of Community Safety and Corrections.
“I worked in a ton of different jobs that all built on each other. I found there was a real openness to giving people a chance,” says Ms. LeBlanc. “Sometimes people feel that the public service doesn’t provide enough possibilities, but if you are curious and want to try different things, it can be really exciting work.”
She acknowledges that one of the challenges of the public service is coping with a change in government—and the change in priorities, projects, and political ideologies that comes with that.
“As a public servant, you have to park your politics at the door. You serve whatever government is there and give the best advice you can,” says Ms. LeBlanc, who has served under the Liberals, the NDP, and the Tories. “As a public servant, you can always make a difference by offering good solid expertise through transitional periods and when difficult decisions are made by governments, you play a role in mitigating the impact on people.”
She also has advice for current students, as they enter a challenging job market. “Keep an open mind in terms of your options and accept jobs that might not be the best fit, because you will learn from the experience,” says Ms. LeBlanc. “And consider the provincial government: I think this is the best job you could get coming out of university.”