Ontario Cabinet Shuffle
On Friday, Ontario Premier Ford shuffled his Cabinet, maintaining a strong base, rewarding a number of hard-working younger caucus members and dropping 5 seasoned veterans. The core of the Cabinet remains the same with many of the familiar members maintaining their portfolios.
The most obvious addition is the return of Rod Phillips to Cabinet in the long-term care portfolio. The Ajax MPP returns after serving 6 months outside Cabinet for an ill-timed vacation in December during the height of the pandemic. Phillips, who is well liked by the Premier will now try and bring some stability to the long-term care file, a position that has had a difficult time during the pandemic period. Phillips will need to restore stability in order to help the governing party move forward towards the next election.
The CFA will continue to work with the Ministers below who have policy responsibility for issues affecting CFA members.
- Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance
- Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
- Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development
New Ministers relevant to CFAs policy and government relations issues
Ross Romano moves to become the Minister of Government and Consumer Services (previously Colleges and Universities). This strengthens the northern Ontario position in Cabinet with another senior role. Romano will also have responsibility of modernizing government systems utilizing the newly formed Supply Ontario. Minister Romano also has responsibility for the Arthur Wishart Act. CFA will be reaching out to him shortly.
Jill Dunlop from Barrie is rewarded with a full Ministry, taking over as Minister of Colleges and Universities. Minister Dunlop recently spoke at the CFA’s Elevate and Empower event.
David Piccini, is the new Minister of the Environment, Conversation and Parks. He will be responsible for implementing extended producer responsibility regulation which which will have a big impact on franchised businesses.
What This Means
Today’s Cabinet Shuffle has brought significant change to the Ford Government, providing a new face as the next election looms in just over 11 months. The shuffle clearly changes the look of the Executive Council with a focus on increased diversity and regional representation. It also strengthens the position of GTHA with additional members in Cabinet.
The government managed the pandemic well in the early stages but has come under fire in recent months for indecision and poor communications. This large change of duties will, by design, bring new faces to the forefront and provide a fresh approach to a government regarded as being out of ideas, especially in the handling of the pandemic.
The new Ministers have been given more responsibility resulting in a younger Cabinet, more diverse and with additional women in senior roles. The shuffle also adds more importance to urban centres, and media centres, and drops some of the old guard, all representing primarily rural ridings. The combination of the new faces and the established base of Ministers in the major portfolios is a clear signal from the government that they believe they are best placed to govern the province.
Dropping the 5 veteran Ministers is a bit of a surprise as none of them was controversial in the public eye. However, some were known to be outspoken on the government’s one-size fits all plan for the province-wide restrictions to counter the pandemic. It’s also not a coincidence that they all come from safe Conservative rural seats. Time will tell if the voters agree or send the government a message in the next election.
With an election a little over 11 months from now, Premier Ford, and his election team, are clearly counting on this to be the team to lead the way to a second majority government. The fallout from dropping the 5 experienced hands and a review of how the newcomers perform will go a long way to achieving that goal.