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Ontario Premier Announces Cabinet Shuffle – Here’s What You Need to Know

On June 18, 2021, Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced a major cabinet shuffle, which comes just under a year before the next provincial election – if not sooner.

Some of Premier Ford’s most senior cabinet ministers have been moved into new portfolios, four new individuals join cabinet, and five senior cabinet ministers – most of whom were members of the Official Opposition during the previous administration – will no longer be part of the Executive Council.

Key changes include the re-appointment of Rod Phillips, former Minister of Finance who is now Minister of Long-Term Care. Prabmeet Sarkaria gets promoted from Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction to President of the Treasury Board, as well as Kinga Surma, from Associate Minister of Transportation (GTA) to Minister of Infrastructure. Greg Rickford moves from Energy, Northern Development and Mines into a merged role as Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry, in addition to Indigenous Affairs. Todd Smith becomes the Minister of Energy following his tenure as the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. Additionally, Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy will assume responsibility for Ontario’s digital government strategy within the Ministry of Finance.

The Shuffle

Ontario’s Executive Council – which includes the Premier, ministers, and associate ministers – now totals 29. While cabinet has not grown in size, a number of portfolios have been created or overhauled. Also, a number of appointments come from Peel Region – perhaps a signal that the Progressive Conservatives will focus their efforts on those ridings come election time. The Premier has yet to announce the Parliamentary Assistants who will support his cabinet.

The new Ontario cabinet will be as follows (changes emphasized in bold):

  • Premier and Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs - Doug Ford
  • Deputy Premier and Minister of Health - Christine Elliott
  • Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions - Michael Tibollo
  • Minister of Long-Term Care - Rod Phillips
  • Minister of Finance - Peter Bethlenfalvy
  • Associate Minister of Digital Government - Kaleed Rasheed
  • Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade and Chair of Cabinet - Vic Fedeli
  • Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction - Nina Tangri
  • Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing - Steve Clark
  • Solicitor General - Sylvia Jones
  • Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks - David Piccini
  • Minister of Children, Community and Social Services - Merilee Fullerton
  • Associate Minister of Children and Women's Issues - Jane McKenna
  • Minister of Labour - Monte McNaughton
  • Attorney General - Doug Downey
  • Minister of Transportation, and Minister of Francophone Affairs - Caroline Mulroney
  • Associate Minister of Transportation (Transit-Oriented Communities) - Stan Cho
  • Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities - Jill Dunlop
  • Minister of Education - Stephen Lecce
  • President of the Treasury Board - Prabmeet Sarkaria
  • Minister of Energy - Todd Smith
  • Minister of Northern Development, Mines, Natural Resources and Forestry, and Minister of Indigenous Affairs - Greg Rickford
  • Minister for Seniors and Accessibility - Raymond Cho
  • Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs - Lisa Thompson
  • Minister of Infrastructure - Kinga Surma
  • Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries - Lisa MacLeod
  • Minister of Government and Consumer Services - Ross Romano
  • Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism - Parm Gill
  • Government House Leader - Paul Calandra

The Bottom Line

New leadership in many of the provincial government’s portfolios – including in senior roles – may represent changes in tone and decision-making, particularly as the Province focusses on economic growth and job recovery following the pandemic, and gears up for the next general election. This will very likely be Premier Ford’s “election cabinet”. Our team at McCarthy Tétrault has experience navigating the legal uncertainties that can result from shifts of this nature.

If you would like more information about the cabinet shuffle and its potential impact on your business, we can help. Please contact Awanish Sinha, Gillian Kerr or Amanda Iarusso with any questions or for assistance.