Last week, Premier Ford announced his new Cabinet, with many of the previous Ministers retaining their portfolios and a few big names being demoted. With no looming election – and no viable opposition party – the Premier can push his policy agenda through the Legislative Assembly of Ontario with little to no opposition over the next 4 years.
Ford’s previous cabinet had 28-people in it, but he has a much larger caucus to choose from this time, with 83 PCs elected earlier this month. This is more Members of Provincial Parliament (MPPs) than any Premier of a Progressive Conservative Party has had since the 1950s. Despite the speculation that Premier Ford would increase the size of Cabinet to create a more balanced regional, ethnic and gender-balanced Cabinet, the Premier has only increased his Cabinet by one, to 29 Ministers.
One thing of note is that the Progressive Conservatives have appointed their first Black Cabinet Minister: Charmaine Williams, Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity – bringing the total to 7 female Cabinet Ministers.
Despite external pressure from political staffers and Ministers themselves, we know that the Premier solely appointed this Cabinet based on perceived strengths, abilities as communicators, their issue management styles and location. He demoted a few key Ministers from his last Cabinet, including Lisa MacLeod, Ross Romano and Nina Tangri (of her own volition, after indicating to the Premier that she intends on running for Speaker of the House).
Insiders at PO stated last week that they have already set the policies for the next four years, they just need Ministers to steer the ship. This is a clear message that Ford will be governing with a centralized approach, concentrating most of the power in the Premier’s Office.
What Can we Expect to See in this Mandate?
With the Tories re-elected, spending is set to increase by 5.1% annually until 2024-25. Increased spending will focus on a few key priorities, including: rebuilding the economy, investing in workers, building highways and key infrastructure, keeping costs down and addressing the provincial debt. Billions will be invested in hospital infrastructure, electric vehicles, highways, accessing the ring of fire, affordable housing, and public transit – making the Minister of Transportation and Minister of Infrastructure important roles in the new mandate.
The Ministry of Health and Education were two very important roles for the Premier to fill. With the government planning billions in hospital infrastructure spending and teacher negotiations on the horizon, these are expected to be high-profile portfolios. With Christine Elliott stepping down – a respected member in Caucus, and the Minister responsible for dealing with COVID-19 – Premier Ford had a serious decision to make about who would fill that role.
It’s no surprise that he chose Sylvia Jones to replace Elliott, as she worked closely with Premier Ford as the Solicitor General during the pandemic. She is also an effective communicator and works closely with critical stakeholders.
Stephen Lecce has remained the Minister of Education to guide the government through teacher contract negotiations. Despite the heavy criticism and opposition of Lecce by union groups – most recently during the provincial election – he has remained steadfast on the file. Following the contract negotiation period, we can expect him to be transitioned into a “friendlier” portfolio.
The Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing will also have a mammoth task ahead. In the last mandate, Premier Ford pledged to build 1.5 million homes over 10 years, a key recommendation from a government-appointed task force earlier this year. Despite rumours to whether Graydon Smith, former President of the Association of Municipalities of Ontario, would be appointed Minister, the Premier has reappointed Clark for continuity.
Finally, while the Minister of Energy has flown relatively under the radar for the last 4-years, Minister Smith will be facing a significant challenge during this mandate. With Pickering Nuclear Plant set to start coming offline in 2024, the Minister of Energy will have 3,100MW of electricity to replace. While the Premier has previously refused to sign new PPAs, their hands will be tied when Pickering comes offline, especially as the province makes a push for electrification. New power purchase agreements will inevitably lead to an increase in electricity prices, which was one of the main criticisms of the Wynne Liberals in 2018.
To find out more, contact one of our experts.
For the full list of who is in and out of the Ontario Cabinet please see below:
Ministers Retaining their Portfolios
Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education
David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility
Todd Smith, Minister of Energy
Kinga Surma, Minister of Infrastructure, with an additional mandate for government real estate
Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions
Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, with an additional mandate for small business
Prabmeet Sarkaria, President of the Treasury Board, with an expanded mandate for emergency management and procurement, including Supply Ontario
Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities
Merrilee Fullerton, MCCSS
Paul Calandra, Minister of Long-Term Care, Minister of Legislative Affairs and Government House Leader
Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development
Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development and Minister of Indigenous Affairs
Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance
Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation and Minister of Francophone Affairs
Stan Cho, Associate Minister of Transportation
Doug Downey, Attorney General
Ministers with New Roles
Sylvia Jones, Deputy Premier and Minister of Health
Kaleed Rasheed, Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery
Parm Gill, Minister of Red Tape Reduction
Michael Ford, Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism
Charmaine Williams, Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity
Michael Kerzner, Solicitor General
Neil Lumsden, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport
George Pirie, Minister of Mines, with a mandate to develop the Ring of Fire
Michael Parsa, Associate Minister of Housing
Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry
No Longer in Cabinet
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