Doug Ford Shuffles Cabinet to Reset Narrative

Insights /

Doug Ford Shuffles Cabinet to Reset Narrative

debate

Doug Ford Shuffles Cabinet

TORONTO, ON, June 18, 2021 –  With a year to go before he heads to the polls, Premier Doug Ford has shuffled his cabinet. This shuffle presses the ‘reset’ button on Ford’s COVID-19 plagued government and represents a chance to highlight some new – and diverse – faces who until now have had lower profile roles. This is an ‘election’ Cabinet that also removes Ministers who have indicated that they will not be running again in 2022 or who may have been seen as underperformers.

Three polls conducted in May 2021, indicated that support for the Progressive Conservatives had begun to wane. While the Premier still leads in the polls, he has lost popularity throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Polling from February 2021 had the PC Party with a commanding lead, but April saw those numbers erode; Ontarians are now less certain about which party they would support if an election were held today[1]. The Premier’s personal support numbers have also fallen sharply. The total of “somewhat good” and “very good” is less than half at 44% while the total of “somewhat bad” and “very bad” is over half at 53%[2]. This dramatic decline in polling numbers has required him to make a number of changes, from taking a backseat on many government announcements to making the Cabinet changes announced today.

“Many of the MPPs and Ministers being given new roles today are young and effective communicators and they also represent diverse and important swing ridings,” said Chairman of Cumberland Strategies, Bliss Baker. “In making this change, the Premier and his senior staff have identified the MPPs and Ministers who have delivered on policies over the last year and who have become trusted, solid representatives of the government. Unfortunately, some of the long-serving, party stalwarts have not been included in this redesigned Cabinet.”

While this shuffle represents a dramatic shake up, the key Ministers responsible for pandemic response remain unchanged. Four of the most public-facing Ministers, the Ministers of Health, Finance and Education and the Solicitor General, will all remain in their portfolios. Minister Elliott (Health) will be tasked with ensuring consistency as the government nears the end of the pandemic. Minister Bethenfalvy will be focused solely on his role as Minister of Finance as Prabmeet Sarkaria is promoted from his previous role as an Associate Minister to President of the Treasury Board. Minister Lecce (Education) will also stay in place. Although he came under fire for keeping students out of the classroom for the majority of the pandemic, he proved to be a very effective communicator and an important team player. Finally, Sylvia Jones, the Solicitor General will remain in her role to ensure consistency with vaccine logistics and public safety.

An appointment that will likely receive a lot of attention, particularly from the media, is Rod Phillips’ new role as Minister of Long-Term Care. He resigned from Cabinet on December 31st 2020, after having been discovered on holiday in St. Barts during a stay-at-home order; this caused significant embarrassment for the government at the time. Minister Phillips seems to be back in favour as he has also been tapped to draft the 2022 PC election platform.

“This shuffle aims to reset the narrative on this government and ensures more Ontarians are represented around the Cabinet table,” said Baker. “Will it pay off come election time? That remains to be seen.”

[1]  Mainstreet Research. (May 19, 2021). Ontario Polling. Retrieved from: https://www.mainstreetresearch.ca/poll/ontario-polling-may-19-2021-pc-33-ndp-28-liberal-27-greens-6/

[2] Brean, J. (May 30, 2021). Doug Ford loses ground in Ontario’s third wave, but opposition popularity is down too: poll  Retrieved from: https://nationalpost.com/news/politics/doug-ford-loses-ground-in-ontarios-third-wave-but-opposition-popularity-is-down-too-poll

 

For the full list of who is in and out of the Ontario Cabinet please see below:

Ministers Staying:

  • Christine Elliot, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health
  • Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education
  • Paul Calandra, Government House Leader
  • Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation and Francophone Affairs
  • Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General
  • Doug Downey, Attorney General
  • Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance
  • Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development
  • Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions
  • Lisa Macleod, Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries
  • Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade and Chair of Cabinet
  • Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility
  • Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

Ministers with new Roles:

  • Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities
  • Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services
  • Greg Rickford assumes a merged role as Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry and Indigenous Affairs
  • Todd Smith, Minister of Energy
  • Ross Romano, Minister of Government and Consumer Services
  • Prabmeet Sarkaria, President of the Treasury Board
  • Kinga Surma, Minister of Infrastructure
  • Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

 New Ministers:

  • David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation & Parks
  • Parm Gill, Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism
  • Stan Cho, Associate Minister of Transportation, reporting to Minister Mulroney
  • Jane McKenna, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, reporting to Minister Fullerton
  • Nina Tangri, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, reporting to Minister Fedeli
  • Kaleed Rasheed, Associate Minister of Digital Government, reporting to Minister Bethenfalvy
  • Rod Phillips, Minister of Long-Term Care

No Longer in Cabinet:

  • Laurie Scott, former Minister of Infrastructure
  • Ernie Hardeman, former Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Bill Walker, former Associate Minister of Energy
  • John Yakabuski, former Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry
  • Jeff Yurek, former Minister of the Environment

 

About Cumberland Strategies

Cumberland Strategies is a leading public affairs, government relations and strategic communications firm with decades of experience advising Canadian and multinational blue-chip corporations. Led by some of the country’s brightest public affairs minds, Cumberland brings intelligent strategic thinking to every project and campaign, ensuring successful outcomes for clients.