On June 2, 2022, Premier Doug Ford was re-elected along with 82 other PC MPPs to a strong majority mandate. Since the election, the Premier has contemplated how best to deploy this team of talent and, this morning, he revealed his choices.
It’s a tough job crafting a Cabinet. Ford was forced to balance a plethora of factors including fair geographic representation from the entire province, especially the PCs’ traditional voter base and emerging areas of support, including blue-collar communities that do not normally vote PC; gender and ethnic balance, to better represent the diverse population of Ontario; loyalty factors to reward supporters and loyal foot-soldiers; and weighing the competencies of his caucus to get the right mix of talent and skills into complex portfolios with challenging issues.
As expected, Ford’s new Cabinet is bigger, and the choices he has made signal priorities that will dominate the government’s agenda.
Despite lots of new talent among the 83 MPPs sitting on the PC benches, Premier Ford largely opted for stability and keeping steady hands at the wheel, rewarding the efforts of those who sat around the previous cabinet table. There are six new faces among the 30 members of cabinet, with many experienced Ministers having been kept in their current portfolios. After campaigning on a platform to build Ontario and “get things done,” the Premier has determined that leaning on the experience of the team that got him to this point is his best bet for success over his next mandate.
Most notably, following outgoing Health Minister Christine Elliott’s retirement from politics, a new Health Minister takes over the portfolio: Sylvia Jones (Dufferin—Caledon). This was one of the most anticipated decisions, and the domino that proved critical in shaping Ford’s new cabinet. Minister Jones was also appointed Deputy Premier, a key promotion.
The choice of Sylvia Jones for these important responsibilities signals that Ford has a level of trust in Minister Jones – trust borne out of her steadying influence and management during the sometimes-tumultuous pandemic response. Jones is known as a careful and thoughtful communicator – a lot like her predecessor, Christine Elliott – and will be welcomed by most stakeholders as approachable and relatable. At first blush, Minister Jones would not be characterized as a radical reformer, but considering the turmoil the health system has gone through dealing with COVID, maybe it is best managed with steady leadership, rather that radical reform. We’ll be looking to see what the Premier and Minister and Deputy Premier Jones have to say about their plans in the coming weeks.
Additionally, Ford has opted to keep experienced Ministers in place at several key portfolios that are expected to undertake significant heavy-lifting early in the government’s mandate. This includes Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy, Treasury Board President Prabmeet Sarkaria, Minister of Energy Todd Smith, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark, and particularly Minister of Education Stephen Lecce. With all of the major teachers’ unions set for bargaining in the forthcoming months, Lecce will be tasked with navigating an extremely delicate balance to preserve labour peace amid a post-pandemic learning recovery and high inflation.
Several ministers are also taking on additional responsibilities within their existing portfolios in recognition of the government’s campaign commitments. This includes Kinga Surma, the Minister of Infrastructure, who will now oversee the management of the provincial government’s real estate portfolio, and incoming Minister of Mines George Pirie, who will have a particular focus on broader development of the Ring of Fire – reflecting the importance of delivering on this commitment in light of the PC Party’s recent success in Northern Ontario. Rather than remaining as a standalone Associate Minister, responsibility for small business matters will return to the direct oversight of Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade Vic Fedeli. With housing supply and affordability continuing to be a major concern, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing Steve Clark will be joined by a new Associate Minister, Michael Parsa.
Below is the full list of the new Cabinet portfolios.
Counsel has also prepared a full photo spread of the new Cabinet here.
- Deputy Premier: Sylvia Jones (Dufferin-Caledon) – New appointment
- Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs: Lisa Thompson (Huron-Bruce) – Returning to Portfolio
- Attorney General: Doug Downey (Barrie—Springwater—Oro-Medonte) – Returning to Portfolio
- Children, Community, and Social Services: Merrilee Fullerton (Kanata—Carleton) – Returning to Portfolio
- Citizenship and Multiculturalism: Michael Ford (York South—Weston) – New MPP, New to Cabinet
- Colleges and Universities: Jill Dunlop (Simcoe North) – Returning to Portfolio
- Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade with an additional mandate for small business: Vic Fedeli (Nipissing) – Returning to Portfolio
- Education: Stephen Lecce (King-Vaughan) – Returning to Portfolio
- Energy: Todd Smith (Bay of Quinte) – Returning to Portfolio
- Environment, Conservation, and Parks: David Piccini (Northumberland-Peterborough South) – Returning to Portfolio
- Finance: Peter Bethlenfalvy (Pickering-Uxbridge) – Returning to Portfolio
- Health: Sylvia Jones (Dufferin-Caledon) – New to Portfolio
- Tourism, Culture & Sport: Neil Lumsden (Hamilton East-Stoney Creek) – New MPP, New to Cabinet
- Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development: Greg Rickford (Kenora-Rainy River) – Returning to Portfolio
- Infrastructure with an additional mandate for government real estate: Kinga Surma (Etobicoke Centre) – Returning to Portfolio
- Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development: Monte McNaughton (Lambton—Kent—Middlesex) – Returning to Portfolio
- Long-Term Care: Paul Calandra (Markham—Stouffville) – Returning to Portfolio
- Mental Health and Addictions: Michael Tibollo (Vaughan—Woodbridge) – Returning to Portfolio
- Mines, with a mandate to develop the Ring of Fire: George Pirie (Timmins) – New MPP, New to Cabinet
- Municipal Affairs and Housing: Steve Clark (Leeds—Grenville—Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes) – Returning to Portfolio
- Associate Minister of Housing: Michael Parsa (Aurora—Oak Ridges—Richmond Hill) – New to Cabinet
- Natural Resources and Forestry: Graydon Smith (Parry Sound-Muskoka) – New MPP, New to Cabinet
- President of the Treasury Board, with an expanded mandate for
emergency management and procurement, including Supply Ontario: Prabmeet Sarkaria (Brampton South) – Returning to Portfolio
- Public and Business Service Delivery: Kaleed Rasheed (Mississauga East—Cooksville) – New to Portfolio
- Red Tape Reduction: Parm Gill (Milton) – New to Portfolio
- Seniors and Accessibility: Raymond Cho (Scarborough North) – Returning to Portfolio
- Solicitor General: Michael Kerzner (York Centre) – New MPP, New to Cabinet
- Transportation and Francophone Affairs: Caroline Mulroney (York—Simcoe) – Returning to Portfolio
- Associate Minister of Transportation: Stan Cho (Willowdale) – Returning to Portfolio
- Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity: Charmaine Williams (Brampton Centre) – New MPP, New to Cabinet
Counsel will provide an update on Parliamentary Assistants, as well as NDP and Liberal opposition critics, as they are announced in the coming days.
Next on the government’s agenda is to recall the Legislature for a short session from June to July 2022, to deliver a Throne Speech and reintroduce a slightly modified version of the Budget tabled in April. The Legislature will then break for the summer before returning for the fall session.
Counsel Public Affairs will continue to keep you updated on important changes at Queen’s Park as the Ford government embarks on its second mandate.
Senior Vice President