Amid early election rumours, Premier Ford refreshes Cabinet and adjourns legislature until late October.

Just two years from when Ontarians gave Premier Ford and his PCs a majority government, Queen’s Park watchers have been debating the pros, cons, and historic lessons of calling early elections. Driving this are questions about what the political impact in Ontario might be if a majority Conservative Government is elected in Ottawa after the next Federal election, expected to occur in late 2025.

The Premier hasn’t denied that his government is considering a potential election before their mandate is expected to end in June 2026, but he wants to get more done on key promises before asking Ontarians to endorse him for another term.

The Premier has decided the best way to do this is a major refresh of key members of his Cabinet. In doing so, he has filled the vacancy left when former Minister of Red Tape Reduction, Parm Gill, opted to run for the Federal Conservatives, rewarded some of his government’s strongest “backbench” performers, and given several portfolios a rebranding to signal policy changes and focus. Today’s shuffle is also about managing caucus at the midway point of the government’s mandate, demonstrating that hard work and strong performance can pay off with promotion.

This is what you need to know about today’s changes:

Big Moves

Minster of Long-term Care, Stan Cho becomes Minister of Minister of Tourism, Culture and Gaming, with responsibility for OLG.

Minister Cho is seen as an exceptional performer in his two previous cabinet portfolios, he will now be responsible for promoting Ontario tourism, a large economic driver and job creating industry and overseeing the vastly expanding online gaming industry, previously under the Ministry of the Attorney General.

Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery, Todd McCarthy becomes Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery and Procurement, gaining responsibility for Supply Ontario.

Already tackling the rapidly changing digital space and leading the framework for use of AI in government, Minster McCarthy has proven to be a very capable performer for the government. Moving Supply Ontario, and responsibility for government procurement under the same roof as ServiceOntario makes a lot of sense.

Minister of Energy, Todd Smith becomes Minister of Education.

Minister Smith is a strong performer and communicator, able to bring order and move the government’s agenda forward without creating issues or controversy. At Energy, he was responsible for making significant investments to address Ontario’s future energy needs, including expanding Ontario’s nuclear capacity. He will now be tasked with keeping peace with teacher unions and advancing the government’s changes to curriculum.

Minister of Education, Stephen Lecce becomes Minister of Energy and Electrification.

Minister Lecce is seen to have successfully managed a difficult file for the PCs and delivered impactful changes to the curriculum, including recently-announced financial literacy requirements and Home Economics education. After serving in this portfolio since 2019, Minister Lecce will now he given an economic portfolio, and be tasked with managing Ontario’s growing energy needs brought on by growing population and rapid changes to technology and transportation sectors.


Associate Minister of Housing, Rob Flack becomes Minister of Farming, Agriculture and Agribusiness.

Minister Flack entered politics in 2022 after a long career in the Agribusiness sector. He is seen as a strong and trustworthy member of Premier Ford’s team. He will be tasked with ensuring that the government is continuing to build stronger relationships within the farming community

Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health, Nolan Quinn becomes Associate Minister of Forestry.

Minister Quinn is well liked member of caucus from Eastern Ontario, an area where the PCs are trying to make more in-roads, having recently announced a dedicated Ottawa regional office.

Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier, Mike Harris becomes Minister of Red Tape Reduction.

No stranger to politics, the son of Former Premier Mike Harris has spent the last number of years advancing key files such as school bus safety and removing red tape for auto dealers, a background that will serve him well in cabinet.

Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Long-Term Care and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Seniors and Accessibility, Natalia Kusendova-Bashta becomes Minister of Long-Term Care.

Since her election in 2018, Minister Kusendova-Bashta has proven herself capable of increasing responsibilities. As a Registered Nurse, she jumped on the front lines to work in a hospital during the pandemic. Her background in healthcare makes her well places to take on the difficult long-term care portfolio.

Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance, Stephen Crawford becomes Associate Minister of Mines.

A former financial advisor, Minister Crawford was long expected to be a part of the next tranche of caucus members to be promoted to cabinet. No stranger to the economic files, he will do well in promoting this important economic and natural resource file.

Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Sam Oosteroff becomes Associate Minister of Energy-Intensive Industries.

First elected in 2016 at the age of 19, the youngest MPP in history, Minister Oosteroff has long stood as the lone representative for the Niagara region in the PC caucus. Adding him to cabinet is a demonstration that this region is a economic priority for the PC government and will be a priority political target in the next election.

Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Trevor Jones becomes Associate Minister of Emergency Preparedness and Response.

Minister Jones’ appointment brings added representation to Cabinet from Southwestern Ontario. He is recognized as a strong performer for the government and his experience as a former police officer will serve him well in this new role. 

Other Changes

Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Northern Development, Greg Rickford gets rebranded Minister of Indigenous Affairs and First Nations Economic Reconciliation and remains Minister of Northern Development.

Associate Minister of Transportation, Vijay Thanigasalam becomes Associate Minister of Housing.

Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry, Graydon Smith becomes Minister of Natural Resources.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Neil Lumsden becomes Minister of Sport.

Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs, Lisa Thompson becomes Minister of Rural Affairs.

Outside of cabinet, MPP Steve Clark becomes Government House Leader.

As a result of today’s cabinet changes, a shuffle to Parliamentary Assistant roles will now also be required soon. These new Ministers will have a lengthy runway to learn their new portfolios before needing to respond to any opposition questions at Queen’s Park as the PC Government used their majority earlier today to adjourn the Legislature a week early for a long summer recess, pushing their return date back six weeks until late October.

To learn more about what this means for your sector, business, or association, please reach out to Counsel Public Affairs’ Ontario Team:

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Michael Ras
Senior Vice President, Ontario

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Rob Elliott
Associate Vice President, Ontario