Ontario Cabinet Shuffle

The Top Line: Mid-Term Cabinet Reboot

Today, approximately two years ahead of the 2018 election, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne recalibrated the Government’s front bench.  There are now 30 ministers in Cabinet, nineteen of whom hold new portfolios. Today’s shuffle also saw seven MPPs promoted from the Liberal backbenches to a seat at the Cabinet table.  The new Cabinet is the team behind which Premier Wynne will seek a fifth consecutive Liberal mandate in the next election.

While today’s shuffle was extensive, it was more a reboot than a complete overhaul as many trusted veterans remain in key positions.  For example, Charles Sousa remains at Finance and Eric Hoskins continues his work as Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. Likewise, Glen Murray remains the Minister of Environment and Climate Change, responsible for overseeing the Province’s $8.3 billion climate change action plan, and Steven Del Duca will remain at Transportation.  However, there were some changes in the senior ranks with trusted veterans handed portfolios where key deliverables are expected before the next election. Deb Matthews was given the portfolio of Advanced Education and Skill Development, Bob Chiarelli will now oversee the Infrastructure file, and Brad Duguid will manage the new Ministry of Economic Development and Growth.

In an effort to put a new face to Cabinet, seven backbenchers were promoted: Laura Albanese, Chris Ballard, Marie-France Lalonde, Kathryn McGarry, Eleanor McMahon, Indira Naidoo-Harris, and Glenn Thibeault.  Notably, five of the seven are women, resulting in a Cabinet that is 40% female.


Advanced Education, Skills Development and Digital Government

This new Ministry will be led by Deb Matthews, a long-serving Minister who was first elected in 2003. Matthews will continue in her role as Deputy Premier and has been a close ally and confidante to the Premier since she won the Liberal leadership in 2013. In her new role, the Minister will oversee the mandate of the former Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. Further, all employment and training programs in other ministries will be coordinated through Matthews’ new ministry. This signifies that the Premier wants a strong focus on job growth by expanding innovation and new skills. Matthews also will oversee the Government’s attempt to expand its digital services delivery as the Minister Responsible for Digital Government.

Economic Development and Growth

The revamped Ministry will be led by Brad Duguid, who will be tasked with the Government’s top priority – jobs and growth. The new ministry will focus on business and industry development that directly creates jobs.  He will also lead efforts to develop a better business climate and relieve regulatory burdens.


Bob Chiarelli will now lead the stand-alone Ministry of Infrastructure. In this role he will oversee the roll-out of the Government’s 12-year, $160 billion infrastructure plan. Also, Minister Chiarelli will be responsible for developing the Province’s next ten-year capital plan, leading the Community Hubs initiative and leading Ontario’s negotiations with the Federal Government on new infrastructure agreements.


It is important to note that Charles Sousa will remain at Finance. Sousa’s biggest priority will be to keep the Government on track to achieving a balanced budget next year. Sousa will continue to seek opportunities for the Government to implement all the recommendations of the Premier’s Advisory Council on Government Assets, while concurrently maximizing revenue from publicly owned entities.

New Faces in Cabinet

There are seven new members of the Ontario Cabinet. In this group of fresh faces, five are women, five were elected in the 2014 election, and one was elected in early 2015. This group represents the new talent that Premier Wynne hopes will invigorate and diversify the Government.

Laura Albanese, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

First elected in 2007, Albanese spent years working as an Italian language news reporter in Toronto. As the Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, she will bring years of experience working with ethnic media and diverse communities. Albanese most recently served as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance and was once the Deputy Government Whip.

Chris Ballard, Minister of Housing and Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy

Ballard previously served as a town councillor for Aurora and has co-owned and run a business for 25 years. Elected in the 2014 general election, he is now the Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy, previously serving as the Parliamentary Assistant. Prior to being sworn into Cabinet, Ballard was also Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Government and Consumer Services.

Marie-France Lalonde, Minister of Government and Consumer Services and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs

Elected in 2014, Lalonde most recently served as the Chief Government Whip and Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development, Employment and Infrastructure. She will key to the Liberals’ outreach to Ontario’s Francophone community.

Kathryn McGarry, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry

Formerly the Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Transportation, McGarry will now serve as the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. She was elected in the riding of Cambridge in the 2014 election and was previously a nurse for over 30 years. McGarry will increase representation of southwestern Ontario at the Cabinet table.

Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport

First elected in 2014 in the riding of Burlington, McMahon has a lengthy career in politics, including working for former Prime Minister John Turner. Prior to entering Cabinet, McMahon served as Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry. McMahon will bring greater representation for the Golden Horseshoe region and increase the number of women around the Cabinet table.

Indira Naidoo-Harris, Associate Minister of Finance (Ontario Retirement Pension Plan)

Formerly a television news reporter, Naidoo-Harris was elected in the riding of Halton in 2014 and brings years of experience working with ethnic media. Her strong communication abilities are also exactly what the Premier will need as the Associate Minister of Finance responsible for overseeing the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan – a major component of this Government’s pre-election agenda.

Glenn Thibeault, Minister of Energy

Elected in a by-election in 2015, Thibeault has been given the significant responsibility of the Energy portfolio. Formerly a federal NDP MP, Thibeault is known for his strong communication skills and years of political experience. The Premier has demonstrated a great deal of trust in Thibeault with this very controversial file, hoping that a new face will turn the page. Thibeault will also be the fourth member of Cabinet from northern Ontario, demonstrating the importance this region plays to the Government in the pre-election period.

What Comes Next

The new Cabinet held its first meeting today immediately following the swearing-in ceremony. This allowed the Premier an opportunity to address her new team behind closed doors and itemize her objectives for the second half of the mandate before the 2018 election.

As the Legislature adjourned for its summer break last Thursday, the Ministers now have the summer to become familiar with their new files, staff their offices, meet with officials, receive briefings and reach out to stakeholders.

The Cabinet shuffle will require a shuffling of Parliamentary Assistants, as several have been promoted to Cabinet. Changes also will have to be made to the membership of Cabinet Committees and eventually to the Standing Committees of the legislature.

However, the latter cannot be finalized until the Legislature resumes in September.

Full List of the New Ontario Cabinet

Kathleen Wynne, Premier and President of the Council and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

Deb Matthews, Deputy Premier, Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, Chair of Cabinet and Minister Responsible for Digital Government

Michael Gravelle, Minister of Northern Development and Mines

Brad Duguid, Minister of Economic Development and Growth

Jeff Leal, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

David Orazietti, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services

Liz Sandals, President of the Treasury Board

David Zimmer, Minister of Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation

Michael Chan, Minister of International Trade

Reza Moridi, Minister of Research, Innovation and Science

Yasir Naqvi, Attorney General and Government House Leader

Charles Sousa, Minister of Finance

Eric Hoskins, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care

Glen Murray, Minister of the Environment and Climate Change

Bob Chiarelli, Minister of Infrastructure

Michael Coteau, Minister of Children and Youth Services and Minister Responsible for Anti-Racism

Tracy MacCharles, Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues and Minister Responsible for Accessibility

Kevin Flynn, Minister of Labour

Bill Mauro, Minister of Municipal Affairs

Helena Jaczek, Minister of Community and Social Services

Dipika Damerla, Minister Responsible for Seniors Affairs

Steven Del Duca, Minister of Transportation

Mitzie Hunter, Minister of Education

Laura Albanese, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration

Chris Ballard, Minister of Housing and Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy

Marie-France Lalonde, Minister of Government and Consumer Services and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs

Kathryn McGarry, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry

Eleanor McMahon, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport

Indira Naidoo-Harris, Associate Minister of Finance (Ontario Retirement Pension Plan)

Glenn Thibeault, Minister of Energy

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