With less than a year until the next provincial election, Premier Ford announced a major cabinet shuffle at Queen’s Park this afternoon. Premier Ford unveiled the leadership team he will entrust to lead Ontario’s post-pandemic recovery ahead of the June 2022 election.
The Ford government has received both praise and criticism following a year of unprecedented challenges in the wake of a global pandemic. As a pre-election reset, the Premier is bringing fresh faces into cabinet while also ensuring continued steady leadership.
Several of the government’s most senior Ministers, including Deputy Premier and Minister of Health Christine Elliott, Minister of Finance Peter Bethlenfalvy and Minister of Education Stephen Lecce are staying in place. This reflects the Premier’s preference for maintaining experienced hands in these key roles.
Premier Ford often boasts about the strength of his caucus, having stated numerous times that he could “have two cabinets” based on the depth of his team. Today’s shuffle puts that strength front and centre.
With a clear focus on recognizing rising caucus stars in strategic ridings, primarily in the Greater Toronto Area, many of these moves will look to help boost profiles in local communities as the election draws near.
New ministers include Parm Gill and David Piccini, along with incoming associate ministers Stan Cho, Nina Tangri, Jane McKenna and Kaleed Rasheed. All are strong advocates in caucus, and expected to face competitive re-election battles next June. These new cabinet members better reflect the diversity of voters that were the foundation of the Premier’s Ford Nation support in the last election.
Several high-performing associate ministers were promoted to full ministers. Kinga Surma, who was previously tasked with overseeing the success of the government’s transit expansion mandate in the GTA, will now take on a broader portfolio as Minister of Infrastructure. Minister Surma will also be responsible for the government’s ambitious broadband expansion initiative.
Prabmeet Sarkaria, who received praise for his handling of multiple red tape reduction bills, is now responsible for maintaining a careful eye on the province’s finances and modernization strategy in the influential role of President of Treasury Board.
Rod Phillips returns to cabinet after resigning as Minister of Finance in December 2020. His return, in the role of Minister of Long-Term Care, recognizes the value of his organizational and leadership capabilities in taking on what will prove to be one of the most challenging and closely-watched files in the year ahead.
Of note and in addition to the Cabinet shuffle announced today, the Premier has tapped Ministers Surma, Phillips and House Leader and Minister without Portfolio Paul Calandra to chair efforts to prepare the next PC Party election platform.
The elevation of new and familiar faces to Cabinet, all of whom were elected alongside Premier Ford in the PC Party’s 2018 triumph, also reflects a turning point in the composition of the Premier’s Cabinet. To this point, the Cabinet had largely reflected an emphasis on caucus unity and a disproportionate share of long-tenured MPPs.
The new team unveiled today puts an emphasis on those whom the Premier believes will help him secure a second mandate. As a result, several longtime PC MPPs, primarily representing “safe” seats in rural Ontario, have seen themselves quietly removed from the front bench after serving in Cabinet for the past several years: John Yakabuski, Laurie Scott, Ernie Hardeman, and Jeff Yurek, as well as Associate Minister Bill Walker.
With today’s changes, the Cabinet grows in size by an additional two members, rising to a total of 28, divided between 18 men and 10 women.
The complete list of changes to Cabinet are:
Appointed to Cabinet
- Rod Phillips, MPP for Ajax, becomes Minister of Long-Term Care.
- Parm Gill, MPP for Milton, becomes Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism.
- Dave Piccini, MPP for Northumberland-Peterborough South, becomes Minister of Environment.
- Stan Cho, MPP for Willowdale, becomes Associate Minister of Transportation, reporting to Minister Mulroney.
- Jane McKenna, MPP for Burlington, becomes Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues, reporting to Minister Fullerton.
- Nina Tangri, MPP for Mississauga-Streetsville, becomes Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction, reporting to Minister Fedeli.
- Kaleed Rasheed, MPP for Mississauga East-Cooksville, becomes Associate Minister of Digital Government, reporting to Minister Bethlenfalvy.
Promoted to Full Minister
- Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria, MPP for Brampton South, becomes President of the Treasury Board.
- Kinga Surma, MPP for Etobicoke Centre, becomes Minister of Infrastructure.
- Jill Dunlop, MPP for Simcoe North, becomes Minister of Colleges and Universities.
Taking on a New Portfolio
- Todd Smith, MPP for Bay of Quinte, becomes Minister of Energy.
- Merrilee Fullerton, MPP for Kanata-Carleton, becomes Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.
- Ross Romano, MPP for Sault Ste. Marie, becomes Minister of Government and Consumer Services.
- Lisa Thompson, MPP for Huron Bruce, becomes Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.
- Greg Rickford, MPP for Kenora-Rainy River, assumes a merged role as Minister of Northern Development, Mining, Natural Resources and Forestry, as well as Indigenous Affairs. This new northern and economic focused ministry will enhance development potential and sustainability in the North.
The members of Cabinet staying in their current portfolios are:
- Christine Elliott, MPP for Newmarket-Aurora, as Minister of Health and Deputy Premier.
- Peter Bethlenfalvy, MPP for Pickering-Uxbridge, as Minister of Finance.
- Raymond Cho, MPP for Scarborough North, as Minister for Seniors and Accessibility.
- Steve Clark, MPP for Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes, as Minister of Municipal Affairs & Housing.
- Doug Downey, MPP for Barrie-Springwater-Oro Medonte, as Attorney General.
- Vic Fedeli, MPP for Nipissing, as Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade.
- Sylvia Jones, MPP for Dufferin-Caledon, as Solicitor General.
- Stephen Lecce, MPP for King-Vaughan, as Minister of Education.
- Monte McNaughton, MPP for Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, as Minister of Labour, Training & Skills Development.
- Caroline Mulroney, MPP for York-Simcoe, as Minister of Transportation and Minister of Francophone Affairs.
- Michael Tibollo, MPP for Vaughan-Woodbridge, as Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions.