The Top Line: Mid-Term Cabinet Reboot
Yesterday, 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 yesterday'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
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