|Dr. Bette Mildred Stephenson|
|MPP for York Mills|
September 18, 1975 – September 09, 1987
|Preceded by||Dalton Arthur Bales|
|Succeeded by||John Bradford Nixon|
July 31, 1924 |
|Political party||Progressive Conservative|
|Spouse(s)||G. Allan Pengelly|
|Alma mater||University of Toronto|
|Cabinet||Minister of Labour
Minister of Education
Minister of Colleges and Universities
Bette Mildred Stephenson, OC OOnt M.D., (born July 31, 1924) is a Canadian medical doctor and former politician in Ontario. She served in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario from 1975 to 1987, and was a cabinet minister in the Progressive Conservative governments of Bill Davis and Frank Miller.
Born in Aurora, Ontario, she attained her medical degree from the University of Toronto in 1946. Stephenson practised medicine for more than 40 years. She was a member of the medical staff, a Director of the Outpatient Department, and Chief of the Department of General Practice at Women's College Hospital. She was also a member of the medical staff at North York General Hospital.
She was a founding member of the College of General Practice in Canada, now known as the College of Family Physicians Canada. She was also the first female member of the board of directors of the Ontario Medical Association and the Canadian Medical Association, and served as the first female president of both organizations.
Stephenson was first elected to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario in the 1975 provincial election, representing the constituency of York Mills in North York. She was appointed to Bill Davis's cabinet as Minister of Labour on October 7, 1975, and won a convincing re-election victory over Liberal candidate Wilfred Caplan in the 1977 election.
On August 18, 1978, she was named Minister of Education and Minister of Colleges and Universities. As Minister, she ordered Toronto schools to use the Lord's Prayer during opening or closing exercise instead of silent meditation. Stephenson was not informed of Davis's decision to extend full-funding to Catholic high schools until the policy had already been decided, and was privately opposed. She was returned to the legislature was the largest majority of her career in the 1981 provincial election.
Stephenson was a prominent supporter of Frank Miller's bid to become party leader in 1985. When Miller replaced Davis as Premier of Ontario on February 8, 1985, he named Stephenson as the Chair of the Management Board of Cabinet.
Under Miller's leadership, the Progressive Conservatives were reduced to a tenuous minority government in the 1985 provincial election. Stephenson, who was personally re-elected without difficulty, was named as Ontario's first female Treasurer and Deputy Premier on May 17. She accomplished little in these roles before the Miller government was defeated by a motion of non-confidence in June 1985. She is the only Finance Minister/Treasurer who has not presented a budget in the Legislative Assembly of Ontario. In opposition, she served as her party's Critic for Health. She retired from politics at the 1987 provincial election.
In the 1990s, Stephenson was appointed as a Board Member on the province's new Education Quality and Accountability Office, which monitors and reports to the public on the performance of the education system. From 1997 to 2005, she was Chairman of the Learning Opportunities Task Force. She is a founding member of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research, and in recent years has been an advocate of privately owned and financed universities. Stephenson herself has attempted to start a private business university in Queensville, Ontario. She endorsed Christine Elliott for the leadership of the PC Party in its 2009 leadership election.
In 1992, she was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in recognition for having "made exceptional contributions to society throughout her career". In 1999, she was awarded the Order of Ontario. The Dr. Bette Stephenson Centre for Learning was also named after her.
- Elizabeth Lumley (2003). Canadian Who's Who 2003. University of Toronto Press. p. 1295. ISBN 0-8020-8865-1.
- "Parliamentary History". Legislative Assembly of Ontario. Retrieved 2009-04-05.
- "OMA women physician pioneers". Ontario Medical Association. Retrieved 2009-04-05.[dead link]
- "Board Member Profile". Ontario Innovation Trust. Retrieved 2009-04-05.
- "Meet the Founders". Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. Retrieved 2009-04-05.
- Nicolas Van Praet. We don't need no (private) education. Capital News. February 5, 1999. 
- Order of Canada citation
- Learning Centre