Ford Unveils New, Mostly Old, Cabinet

Under appropriately bright blue skies, the new cabinet for the newly re-election Ontario government under Doug Ford was sworn in outside Queen’s Park on Friday. The new 30-member cabinet does contain a few newly elected faces, but it’s mostly made up of tried and true politicians who are returning to the roles and the parts they played at the end of the last session.

By the numbers, there are 30 cabinet ministers now, which is one more from the last shuffle this time last year. There are 23 men and seven women in cabinet, which is also the spread in terms of people who were in the Ford cabinet at the end of last term, and the number of new ministers in this cabinet going forward.

The biggest change likely goes to Sylvia Jones, who’s gone from Solicitor General to the new Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, succeeding Christie Elliott who stepped down before the election earlier this year.

Parm Gill is also moving, but from Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism to Minister of Red Tape Reduction, which is now a full cabinet position. Meanwhile, Stan Cho, the former Associate Minister for Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, is now the Associate Minister of Transportation. Incidentally, small business now falls under Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Vic Fedeli’s responsibility.

Further, Kaleed Rasheed got a promotion from Associate Minister of Digital Government to Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery.

Ross Ramano and Nina Tangri will move to the backbench now, and so will Lisa McLeod, who was moved to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport after blame fell on her to changes in autism support funding as Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. Neil Lumsden, the new PC MPP from what was formally the NDP stronghold of Hamilton East-Stoney Creek, is the new Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport.

Monte McNaughton will add Immigration to his portfolio as Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development while Kinga Surma is now not just the Minister of Infrastructure, but the  Minister of Infrastructure with an additional mandate for government real estate. In addition to serving as President of the Treasury Board, Prabmeet Sarkaria will also have an expanded mandate for emergency management and procurement, including Supply Ontario.

Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry have been spun off into their own separate portfolios so that Greg Rickford is now the head of a slimmed down role as Minister for Northern Development and Minister of Indigenous Affairs. Graydon Smith, who won in a squeaker against Green Party candidate Matt Richter in Parry Sound-Muskoka, is now the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, while George Pirie, who defeated long-servicing NDP MPP Gilles Bisson in Timmons-James Bay, is now the Minister of Mines, with a mandate to develop the Ring of Fire.

Other new faces at the cabinet table include Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill MPP Michael Parsa as the Associate Minister of Housing and newly elected York Centre MPP Michael Kerzner who is the new Solicitor General. Charmaine Williams, who won in a big upset in Brampton Centre and is one of two Black women in the PC caucus now, is the new Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity. And finally, Michael Ford, former Toronto City Councillor and nephew of the Premier, is the new Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism.

“With big challenges ahead, including an uncertain global economic climate, now is the time for unity and working together,” said Ford in a statement. “Our government will be relentless in delivering on our ambitious plan to grow our economy and build infrastructure as we leave no stone unturned when it comes to solving the historic labour shortage. It’s all hands on deck.”

Here’s the rest of the cabinet:

  • Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
  • Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance
  • Paul Calandra, Minister of Long-Term Care, Minister of Legislative Affairs and Government House Leader
  • Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility
  • Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
  • Doug Downey, Attorney General
  • Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities
  • Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services
  • Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education
  • Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation and Minister of Francophone Affairs
  • David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
  • Todd Smith, Minister of Energy
  • Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

Reaction to the new cabinet from the opposition benches was tepid.

“Today, I offer my congratulations to Premier Ford on the swearing in of his new cabinet. However, it is discouraging to see only 7 women of the 30 ministers. Representation matters, and all governments should strive for gender parity,” said Guelph MPP and Green Party leader Mike Schreiner. “I also urge the Premier to reflect on the significance of the next four years in the fight against the climate crisis. The Premier and his new cabinet must act urgently to make Ontario climate ready.”

“I am ready to work hard and across party lines on these priorities. I am also ready to hold the Ford government to account. I will continue to push for a real plan to tackle the climate crisis, and to defend and protect the people and places we love in Ontario,” Schreiner added.

“The bottom line for people is that it doesn’t matter who is in Ford’s cabinet if the government isn’t on people’s side. We are calling on Ford to direct this cabinet to stop the cuts and starts solving the problems that we’re all facing,” said Niagara Centre MPP Jeff Burch speaking on behalf of the NDP. “Health care is in crisis, and we need to invest to end the long waits. Our kids need more support and smaller class sizes to recover after a couple really tough years. And working folks need higher wages and more financial relief.”

In an unattributed statement from the Ontario Liberals, the party said their priorities will include the repealing of Bill 124, school safety, a “real plan” to address climate change, economic relief for Ontarians and preparing for future waves of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Check out the evolving picture of the Ford cabinet below. Ministers still in their previous positions are coloured light blue, ministers in the same but adjusted positions are coloured dark blue, new ministers are coloured green, previous cabinet ministers still in government are yellow, while former ministers no longer in government are orange.

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