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When You Need To Know About The New Ontario Cabinet

Premier Doug Ford announced a significantly revamped Cabinet as he heads into a second term with an even bigger majority. Ford held many of his most trusted ministers on key files, like finance and education, where the government may want to project stability. There are familiar faces getting new gigs, and a handful of rookies being added to the mix. McMillan Vantage is here with what you need to know, when you need it most, including who’s in this new Cabinet, how to engage them, and what today’s announcement means for you. 

Who’s Who and Who’s What

Hon. Doug Ford – Etobicoke–North (Toronto)Premier of Ontario and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
Hon. Sylvia Jones – Dufferin–Caledon (Central)Deputy Premier and Minister of Health
Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy – Pickering–Uxbridge (GTA) Minister of Finance
Hon. Paul Calandra – Markham–Stouffville (GTA)Minister of Long-Term Care, Minister of Legislative Affairs and Government House Leader
Hon. Raymond Cho – Scarborough North (Toronto)Minister of Seniors and Accessibility
Hon. Steve Clark – Leeds–Grenville–Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes (East)Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Hon. Doug Downey – Barrie–Springwater–Oro-Medonte (Central)Attorney General
Hon. Jill Dunlop – Simcoe North (Central)Minister of Colleges and Universities 
Hon. Victor Fedeli – Nipissing (North)Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, with an additional mandate for small business
Hon. Michael Ford – York South– Weston (Toronto) Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism
Hon. Merrilee Fullerton – Kanata– Carleton (Ottawa)Minister of Children, Community and Social Services
Hon. Parm Gill  – Milton (GTA)Minister of Red Tape Reduction
Hon. Michael Kerzner – York Centre (Toronto)Solicitor General
Hon. Stephen Lecce – King–Vaughan (GTA)Minister of Education
Hon. Neil Lumsden – Hamilton East–Stoney Creek (Hamilton-Niagara)Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport
Hon. Monte McNaughton – Lambton–Kent–Middlesex (Southwest)Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development
Hon. Caroline Mulroney – York–Simcoe (GTA)Minister of Transportation and Minister of Francophone Affairs
Hon. David Piccini – Northumberland–Peterborough South (Central)Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Hon. Graydon Smith – Parry Sound–Muskoka (North)Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry
Hon. George Pirie – Timmins (North)Minister of Mines, with a mandate to develop the Ring of Fire
Hon. Kaleed Rasheed – Mississauga East–Cooksville (GTA)Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery
Hon. Greg Rickford – Kenora–Rainy River (North)Minister of Northern Development, Minister of Indigenous Affairs
Hon. Prabmeet Sarkaria – Brampton South (GTA)President of the Treasury Board, with an expanded mandate for emergency management and procurement, including Supply Ontario
Hon. Todd Smith – Bay of Quinte (East)Minister of Energy
Hon. Kinga Surma – Etobicoke Centre (Toronto)Minister of Infrastructure, with an additional mandate for government real estate
Hon. Lisa Thompson – Huron–Bruce (Southwest)Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Hon. Stan Cho – Willowdale (Toronto)Associate Minister of Transportation
Hon. Michael Parsa – Aurora–Oak Ridges–Richmond Hill (GTA)Associate Minister of Housing
Hon. Michael Tibollo – Vaughan–Woodbridge (GTA)Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions
Hon. Charmaine Williams – Brampton Center (GTA)Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity

What Ford Was Thinking 

Ford said that with big challenges ahead, including an uncertain global economic climate now is the time for unity and working together. He vowed to be “relentless” in delivering on his ambitious plan to grow our economy and build infrastructure. 

Something old, something new 

Premier Ford’s move to maintain status quo in key ministries signals his intention to move quickly on key and time-sensitive matters important to the government. At the same time, new faces will add to the Cabinet’s diversity and bring new energy to a government that just earned an even bigger mandate. 

The new faces added to Cabinet highlight some of the government’s most important long- and short-term priorities. They include a Minister from Timmins responsible for mines (with a mandate to develop the Ring of Fire), the creation of an Associate Ministry of Housing to tackle the housing crisis, and upgrading the Ministry of Red Tape Reduction to a full ministry. 

Additionally, the Treasury Board (still under the leadership of Minister Sarkaria) has an expanded mandate of emergency management and procurement, which will take a hard look at pandemic-proofing the Ontario supply chain and ensuring preparedness for future emergencies.

Stability is key

This Cabinet has a lot of familiar faces, many of whom are in the same roles. This tells us Ford is keeping some trusted advisors in key roles to ensure stability at a moment of global economic tumult, but also to ensure key measures of his sweep agenda actually get done in the coming months.

Among those who remained in their post are Peter Bethlenfalvy as Finance Minister, as was expected. As the government tries to recover from COVID-19 spending habits while also fulfilling some hefty campaign promises, Bethlenfalvy’s time and experience in the position is no doubt an asset. 

Stephen Lecce is also remaining in his position as Minister of Education, which he has held since 2019. Lecce has carried the ministry through provincewide teachers’ strike in 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic and, despite the challenging task, won his seat with almost 60% of the vote share. With another round of tough contract talks with teachers’ unions coming soon, it is no mystery why the Premier wanted a stable and reliable hand on this file. 

Given the unprecedented union support the Ford government received during the election, there were questions around whether Monte McNaughton would receive a promotion, but this doesn’t seem to be the case. Others who returned to their same post include Caroline Mulroney at transportation, Paul Calandra at Long-Term Care, Steve Clark at Municipal Affairs and Housing and Doug Downey as Attorney General.

Promoting the strongest players 

Ford had a much larger caucus to choose from this time around, meaning that Ford was able to put the best and brightest in his key portfolios. We saw some promotions from members of the previous Cabinet, including Sylvia Jones, who previously held the role of Solicitor General, now being appointed as Minister of Health. With much Cabinet speculation focused on who would replace Christine Elliott, this new role shows that Jones has earned the respect and trust of Premier Ford as they both enter their second term in government. 

More experience and more ministers

While the portfolios themselves didn’t change all that much (for example a much-rumoured break-up of MEDJCAT failed to materialize), but we did see the overall expansion of Cabinet, growing from 28 to 30. This gives some ministers who had two portfolios in the previous Cabinet some extra breathing room, and it offers fresh faces a seat at the table. 

Experience isn’t all that matters, though, with two previous ministers, Ross Romano and Lisa MacLeod, being left without Cabinet positions this time around. 

Representation matters

Ford increased regional representation, bringing in strong MPPs who won tough ridings. Included on the list is George Pirie, a newly elected MPP who was the Mayor of Timmins and defeated longtime NDP MPP Giles Bisson.

We are also seeing that Ford prioritized a diverse Cabinet to better reflect the people it serves. In his first Cabinet in 2018, Ford received some backlash for only giving a position to one visible minority MPP. By the end of his term, six of the 28 MPPs holding positions in Cabinet were people of colour and there were 10 women. 

Other big priorities: Red tape reduction, housing, Ring of Fire, small business and more

In addition to those mentioned above for housing affordability and mines, we saw some other new ministries and altered portfolios: a Minister of Red Tape and changes to Government and Consumer services, which has become Public and Business Service Delivery. 

For more information about Ontario government relations support  from McMillan Vantage, please contact Karl Baldauf or Tausha Michaud.

mcmillan vantage policy group
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