Last week, Ontario Premier Doug Ford unveiled his cabinet for the Progressive Conservatives’ (PCs) second term in office. While most incumbent ministers were reappointed to continue with their previously held portfolios, a handful were shuffled into new positions and six new first-time MPPs were added to Cabinet including former Toronto City Councillor Michael Ford, former CFL Hall of Famer Neil Lumsden, former Timmins Mayor George Pirie, former Brampton City Councillor Charmaine Williams, seasoned executive Michael Kerzner, and former Mayor of Bracebridge Graydon Smith.
Three members of Premier Ford’s pre-election Cabinet were removed, including five-term Ottawa MPP Lisa McLeod, and three-term Sault Ste. Marie MPP Ross Romano. Mississauga-Streetsville MPP, Nina Tangri, was not reappointed to Cabinet after she expressed interest in running to be Speaker of the Legislature. If successful, she will be the first female Speaker.
Sylvia Jones takes over as Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, replacing Christine Elliot, who previously held these roles. Minister Jones is well respected in Cabinet and seen as a consensus builder. She played a key role in Ontario’s response to COVID-19 under her previous portfolio as Ontario’s Solicitor General. She is also the longest serving MPP in Cabinet, having first been elected to the Ontario Legislature in 2007.
Peter Bethlenfalvy holds on to his role as Minister of Finance, having most recently tabled the 2022 Spring budget, one that many expect the Ontario government to debate and pass into legislation in the coming weeks. Minister Bethlenfalvy is considered one of Premier Ford’s strongest members of Cabinet, previously having served as both the Treasury Board President and Finance Minister at the same time for a brief stint.
Caroline Mulroney also continues as Minister of Transportation and Minister of Francophone Affairs, portfolios she has been managing since 2019 and 2018, respectively. Transportation has become a focal point for Premier Ford’s capital spend on infrastructure, and over the course of the next four years, Minister Mulroney will likely focus on the development of transit-oriented communities, highway upgrades and major LRT and subway expansion projects that were all announced in the 2022 budget. She previously served as Ontario’s Attorney General.
Stephen Lecce retains his role as Minister of Education at a critical time as education unions across Ontario have contract expirations scheduled for the end of August. Minister Lecce’s first order of business will likely be negotiating with four of the five main teachers’ unions. Lecce previously worked as a political staffer in former Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s Office.
Kinga Surma also retains her position as Minister of Infrastructure, having been considered by insiders to be a rising star during her first term. Minister Surma has an added mandate of managing government real estate, which includes selling surplus government property. Building on her work during her previous role as Associate Transportation Minister, Surma is expected to collaborate with Minister Mulroney to continue progressing major public transportation projects including highways and transit expansion.
Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria keeps his position as Treasury Board President, but with an expanded mandate to oversee emergency management and procurement, including the newly formed Supply Ontario agency. Minister Singh Sarkaria was also instrumental in helping secure all five Brampton seats for the PCs including ridings that were previously held by the NDP.
Todd Smith continues as Minister of Energy with some major issues on the horizon, including fulfilling the province’s energy capacity gap as aging nuclear power plants are decommissioned or refurbished. Minister Smith is a PC cabinet mainstay, having previously served as Minister of Government and Consumer Services, Economic Job Creation and Trade, and Children, Community and Social Services.
Michael Ford, whom many know as Premier Ford’s nephew, has been appointed to Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism. While he is a first-time MPP, Michael Ford has already amassed several years of experience as a public office holder, having served the Etobicoke North community as both a City Councillor and School Board Trustee.
George Pirie, who is also a first-time MPP has been appointed Minister of Mines with a mandate to develop the Ring of Fire. Pirie, who had been serving as the Mayor of Timmins since 2018, defeated long-time NDP MPP Gilles Bisson, who was first elected in 1990. He is the former President and CEO of Place Dome Canada, a global mining company.
Greg Rickford is reappointed as Minister of Indigenous Affairs and Minister of Northern Development, though without the mining portfolio. Rickford also previously lost the Energy portfolio when Premier Ford decided to split the ministry halfway through their first term. Understanding that northern development is a key focus area for the PCs over the next four years, it is likely that Minister Rickford is expected to have his hands full with fulfilling that mandate alone.
The next four weeks
With cabinet in place, the Premier also unveiled, this afternoon, his team of Parliamentary Assistants that will support Cabinet Ministers with delivering each of their ambitious mandates. Click here for the full Parliamentary Assistants list.
- Formalizing Cabinet Committee memberships and mandate letters
- Finalizing staffing for the Premier’s Office, Ministers’ Offices, Parliamentary Assistants’ Offices as well as backbench MPPs.
- Recalling the Ontario Legislature to elect a new Speaker, issuing the Speech from the Throne and most importantly, introducing key legislation including the 2022 Ontario Budget for debate and passage.
The Official Opposition (NDP) has already appointed an interim leader in long-time Toronto MPP Peter Tabuns who will replace the outgoing Andrea Horwath and will now look to appoint his Opposition Leader Office staff. The Liberals will be looking to appoint an interim leader in the coming days while both parties will then be looking to formalize their official leadership selection processes. In parallel, both parties will also be looking to finalize staffing in MPP offices and appointing Opposition Officers and Critics.
As always, our public affairs team is available to provide further insights on the items above as well as support your organization’s engagement with the newly elected Ontario government.
We have also developed a post-election wrap report on the 2022 Ontario election, which analyzes the election results and Premier Ford’s Cabinet. It also provides a closer look at upcoming priorities for the Ford government. To see our report, follow the link at the top right corner of this page.