Born and raised in Hamilton, Ontario, Joy studied economics at the University of Western Ontario before travelling to England to earn a diploma in labour studies from the London School of Economics.
Joy was first elected to the Legislature in 1991 as the MLA for Vancouver-Hastings. Now in her third term in office, Joy has gained extensive legislative experience on both sides of the House. While in government she served in several senior cabinet portfolios, including; Education, Finance, Health, Labour, and Social Services, as well as Deputy-Premier and Government House Leader. During her time in government, Joy also served as chair of Government Caucus, the Treasury Board, the Economic Council, the Cabinet Committee on Collective Bargaining, and the Cabinet / Caucus Committee on Legislation, as well as serving as co-chair of the Legislature's Constitution Committee, vice-chair of the Public Accounts Committee. Joy sees her move to the Opposition benches as an opportunity to speak out and learn about an even broader range of public policy issues.
Joy has called Vancouver home for almost twenty years and lives with her teenaged son.