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Ontario has 17 new ridings for 2018. Here's some things to know about the redistribution

June 4, 2018
CBC News

Voters in Ontario will send more representatives to Queen's Park on June 7 than they have in nearly two decades.

This year, a total of 124 ridings will be contested. That's 17 more ridings than the last election in 2014.

The new electoral map is a result of a riding redistribution process that was announced by Kathleen Wynne's Liberal government in 2015. In August of that year, Wynne revealed that riding boundaries in southern Ontario would be redrawn to match those of their federal counterparts, which were themselves revised three years earlier.

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Since then, there's been a number of developments that boosted the number of provincial ridings further.

Here's a few important things to know about how we got here.

What is redistribution?

The Constitution of Canada dictates that federal riding boundaries are reviewed every 10 years, after the completion of a decennial, or 10-year, census.

Changes that are made most often reflect the population dynamics in a given area and are intended to ensure that each riding contains a population as close to the provincial average as possible.

Ontario's provincial riding map has closely mirrored the federal one since 1999, when the then-Tory government significantly reduced the number of seats in the legislature from 130 to 103.

The last federal redistribution occurred in 2012, and Ontario moved to match the new federal boundaries in the southern reaches of the provinces in 2015. During that particular reshuffle, the government opted to maintain one additional provincial seat in northern Ontario than what was carved out by the federal government.

How many seats were added?

The 2015 redistribution grew the number of seats in Ontario from 107 to 122, while the number of federal ridings stood at 121.

Each of the 15 new ridings drawn in that reshuffle were located in urban areas, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area, which has seen explosive population growth in the last decade.

Then, in August 2017, Wynne announced that two additional seats would be added in northern Ontario. The new ridings came out of recommendations by the Far North Electoral Boundaries Commission, a non-partisan, five-member committee. One of the two new ridings, Kiiwetinong, has a majority Indigenous population.

The creation of Kiiwetinong and Mushkegowuk-James Bay brought the total number of Ontario ridings to 124.

What are the new ridings for 2018?

Due to the additional seats, 31 existing ridings have undergone name changes.

Further, according to Elections Ontario, the changes meant that 95 per cent of current ridings saw their boundaries shift in the most recent redistribution.

The 17 additional seats for 2018 are:

- Aurora-Oak Ridges-Richmond Hill.

- Barrie-Innisfil.

- Brampton Centre.

- Brampton South.

- Carleton.

- Don Valley North.

- Flamborough-Glanbrook.

- Hastings-Lennox & Addington.

- Kiiwetinoong.

- King-Vaughan.

- Kitchener South-Hespeler.

- Markham-Thornhill.

- Milton.

- Mississauga Centre.

- Mushkegowuk-James Bay.

- Scarborough North.

- University-Rosedale.

Why does it matter?

Redrawn electoral boundaries can have a notable influence on the election result. For example, as the number of seats in a particular city increases, so to does the voting power of constituents in that area. More MPPs from urban centres will translate into a greater emphasis from all of the parties on urban issues.

This is why, as the population of the 905 region continues to grow, the old adage that elections are won and lost in the 905 becomes increasingly self-evident. 

This reasoning was also central to the creation of additional ridings in northern Ontario, where many voters feel woefully under-represented at Queen's Park.

New boundaries can also have a significant effect on the horse-race dynamics in any given riding, paving the way for a turnover of parties that may not have happened otherwise.

For the individual voter, redrawn boundaries mean you should double check what riding you are currently in with Elections Ontario. You can search what riding you're in here.