The Top Line: The Ford Government
Earlier today, the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario, officiated at the swearing-in ceremony of the Executive Council of the 43rd Parliament of Ontario. The Progressive Conservative (PC) Party was re-elected on June 2, 2022 with an increased-majority government of 83 seats in the 124-seat Legislature.
With a larger pool of PC MPP’s to choose from and only one vacancy in Cabinet (brought about by the retirement of Deputy Premier and Health Minister, Christine Elliott), Premier Ford was left with some challenging decisions that included dealing with more members, a broader talent diversity and an expanded geographical base. Today’s Cabinet dealt with all those issues, growing Cabinet to 30 members and bringing in representation from northern Ontario and Hamilton – regions that have not typically been supportive of PC policies.
The new Cabinet includes twenty-three men and seven women. Twenty-three Cabinet positions were filled with veterans from the last government while seven are new to the Executive Council. Six members join Cabinet having been elected this time for the first time while Michael Parsa was promoted. Four Associate or Junior Ministers were appointed and Lisa McLeod MPP and Ross Romano MPP were dropped from the previous Cabinet.
The only significant change to the provincial Ministry was splitting one Ministry into three. Previously a single Ministry, Greg Rickford now holds Northern Development and Indigenous Affairs while newcomers Graydon Smith holds Natural Resources and Forestry and George Pirie takes over Mines.
Premier Ford filled his only vacancy in Health with a seasoned veteran, Sylvia Jones, who will also serve as Deputy Premier. By appointing a new member, Michael Kerzner will fill Jones spot as Solicitor General, Ford avoided the domino effect that allowed him to keep most of his Cabinet in tact from the previous government. The nucleus of Cabinet continues to be Peter Bethlenfalvy in Finance, Vic Fedeli in Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, Stephen Lecce in Education, Steve Clark in Municipal Affairs and Housing, Caroline Mulroney in Transportation, Monte McNaughton in Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development and Doug Downey as Attorney General.
In achieving a second majority mandate from the people of Ontario, Premier Ford will get back to what he started in 2018 before being interrupted by the pandemic. In his first mandate, he was committed to running a more economically frugal government. He often said that “the party with the taxpayer’s money is over” and he campaigned on the slogan “for the people”.
“I will never forget why I’m here: to work for the people of Ontario,” Ford said in a statement. “I promised the people that I would help make our great province the best place in North America when it comes to business, creating jobs and raising a family. And I am going to keep my promise.”
In Campaign 2022, his slogan was simply “Get it done” and in his comments today “It’s all hands on deck” as Ontario begins to address its plan to grow the economy, build infrastructure and solve the province’s historic labour shortage.
During the campaign, and again today, the Premier emphasized the delivery of key policies to build Ontario. He promoted getting more women and men in the skilled trades and advocated for more newcomers to come to Ontario and find a job. He promised expanded infrastructure with specific references to building Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass, to expanding GO Train service and bringing back the Ontario Northlander train. And he has committed to building 1.5 million homes over the next 10 years.
Premier Ford has indicated that the legislature will return for a rare summer sitting. While the government has the right to introduce a brand new budget, look instead for it to bring back Budget 2022, first introduced on April 29th, with some minor adjustments. Budget 2022 includes a move away from the pandemic-spending, with a focus on five main themes. Each theme is aimed at the government’s priorities as highlighted by earlier announcements and is focused on their most urgent priorities for Ontarians. The five themes in the budget are: Rebuilding Ontario’s Economy; Working for Workers; Building Highways and Key Infrastructure; Keeping Costs Down and A Plan to Stay Open.
Executive Council for the 43rd Parliament of Ontario
- The Hon. Sylvia Jones, Minister of Health and Deputy Premier
- The Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance
- The Hon. Paul Calandra, Minister of Long-Term Care, Minister of Legislative Affairs and Government House Leader
- The Hon. Raymond Cho, Minister for Seniors and Accessibility
- The Hon. Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal affairs and Housing
- The Hon. Doug Downey, Attorney General
- The Hon. Jill Dunlop, Minister of Colleges and Universities
- The Hon. Vic Fedeli, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
- The Hon. Michael Ford, Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism
- The Hon. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services
- The Hon. Parm Gill, Minister of Red Tape Reduction
- The Hon. Michael Kerzner, Solicitor General
- The Hon. Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education
- The Hon. Neil Lumsden, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport
- The Hon. Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development
- The Hon. Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation and Minister of Francophone Affairs
- The Hon. David Piccini, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
- The Hon. Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry
- The Hon. George Pirie, Minister of Mines
- The Hon. Kaleed Rasheed, Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery
- The Hon. Greg Rickford, Minister of Northern Development and Minister of Indigenous Affairs
- The Hon. Prabmeet Sarkaria, President of the Treasury Board
- The Hon. Todd Smith, Minister of Energy
- The Hon. Kinga Surma, Minister of Infrastructure
- The Hon. Lisa Thompson, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
- The Hon. Stan Cho, Associate Minister of Transportation
- The Hon. Michael Parsa, Associate Minister of Housing
- The Hon. Michael Tibollo, Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions
- The Hon. Charmaine Williams, Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity
A Quick Look at Key Cabinet Members
Hon. Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario
Having come back with an even bigger majority, Premier Ford will have full authority and control of the Legislature, helping reinforce his 2022 slogan to “Get it Done.” He will focus on key campaign policy promises, including promoting skilled trades, and building infrastructure, including Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass.
Hon. Sylvia Jones, Minister of Health and Deputy Premier
Minister Jones served as Ontario’s Solicitor General, and will now take on the role previously held by former MPP Christine Elliott. Health is by far the biggest ministry, and the Minister will be responsible for billions in healthcare spending on hospitals and medical infrastructure that needs a significant overhaul.
Hon. Peter Bethlenfalvy, Minister of Finance
Minister Bethlenfalvy will keep his role as the Minister of Finance. He has held the role since December 2020. He tabled the 2022 Ontario Budget in April, laying out the Ontario PC Party’s goals for its next mandate, which served as a campaign platform. Look for the new budget to be reintroduced later this summer to be virtually the same.
Hon. Paul Calandra, Minister of Long-Term Care, Minister of Legislative Affairs and Government House Leader
Minister Calandra keeps all three of his roles, including Government House leader – a position he has held since 2019. He will continue to play an important role in the Cabinet and the management of House and Legislative business.
Hon. Stephen Lecce, Minister of Education
Minister Lecce will retain his position as Ontario’s Minister of Education, a role he has held since 2019, dealing with an ongoing number of issues including the teachers’ strike in early 2020. He also managed the many school closures over the course of the COVID-19 pandemic. He will be busy this summer as the government negotiates new teacher contracts with a number of unions.
Hon. Monte McNaughton, Minister of Labour
McNaughton returns to Cabinet in the labour portfolio largely due to his handling of the union leadership over the past three years. He developed relationships that should serve the government well and also led to a number of the private sector unions backing the PC’s in the recent election campaign.
Hon. Doug Downey, Attorney General
A solid voice for overseeing the laws of the province, Downey will continue in this important role. A strong voice in Cabinet, Downey barely hung on to his seat in the recent election. Look for the majority government to introduce new legislation that will require a strong leadership and direction.
Hon. Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation
Returning to her familiar Ministry, Minister Mulroney will be busy overseeing a number of new infrastructure programs announced by the government. This was a key plank in the PC platform and not without some controversy in some projects, including construction of the new Highway 413.
Hon. Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
A capable Minister who has served Ontarians since his first election at age 23. Clark remains a favorite of the Premier’s and will have responsibility of the tricky housing initiative, specifically addressing the shortages across the province. A key plank in the PC Party platform, look for Clark to gain profile as this very important issue dominates throughout this term.
Hon. Graydon Smith, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry
Joining the group of rookie MPPs in cabinet, Minister Smith will serve as the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. MPP Smith previously served as the Mayor of Bracebridge, Ontario.
Hon. George Pirie, Minister of Mines
A former Mayor of Timmins, Minister Pirie is also a first time MPP, and cabinet member. He has been specifically tasked with a mandate to develop the Ring of Fire. This position was previously held by MPP Greg Rickford, who will continue as the Minister of Northern Development and Indigenous Affairs.
Hon. Neil Lumsden, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport
Minister Lumsden is one of six first time MPPs appointed to the Cabinet. He will take on the role of Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport that was previously held by MPP Lisa McLeod. Lumsden is a former all-Canadian running back in the CFL.
Hon. Michael Kerzner, Solicitor General
Minister Krzener joins the group of rookie MPPs in cabinet, and takes on the role of Solicitor General that was previously held by MPP Jones. Kerzner beat Independent MPP Roman Baber (former PC) in York Centre to win his seat.
Hon. Michael Ford, Minister of Citizenship and Culturalism
Minister Ford is Premier’s Ford nephew, and a rookie MPP who has been tasked with the role of Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism. Ford previously served on Toronto City Council for over five years. He was elected in the non-traditional riding of York South-Weston in Toronto. This appointment will receive media attention due to the relationship with the Premier.
Hon. Charmaine Williams, Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity
Minister Williams will serve as the Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity, joining the group of first-time MPPs in cabinet. She represents the riding of Brampton Centre, and defeated former NDP Deputy Leader Sara Singh to win her seat.