Doug Ford announced his new cabinet today, naming Sylvia Jones deputy premier and minister of health, and giving his young nephew a seat at the table.
The opposition NDP criticized the post, noting Jones served as solicitor general when cabinet made the unpopular decision to give police additional powers as the province struggled to get the third wave of COVID-19 under control.
"Alongside Doug Ford, Sylvia Jones is the minister who made the terrible choice to shut down playgrounds and give police more carding powers in the name of controlling COVID spread," said caucus chair Jeff Burch in a statement. "That undermines people’s confidence that, as health minister, she’ll have their health and well-being at heart."
The bulk of Ford's cabinet stayed the same as before the election, but it has grown from 26 ministers, in addition to the premier, to 28.
No minister was defeated in the election, and only Christine Elliott — who was minister of health and deputy premier — decided not to run again. Ford said he'd consulted with Elliott about who should replace her.
Three former members, in addition to Elliott, were not reappointed: Lisa MacLeod, Ross Romano and Nina Tangri.
Tangri plans to run for Speaker, according to the Toronto Star's Robert Benzie.
MacLeod has been a controversial figure for the past four years, largely due to her handling of the province's autism program. Wait lists for services have exploded, and tens of thousands of kids are still without treatment.
MacLeod released a statement on Friday saying she's taking a temporary step back from politics to "take some time off to address and improve my health."
"The last couple of years have been difficult for many people. I know I am not alone in this regard. In my case, my mental and physical health and well-being have been greatly impacted," she said.
Ford added six newly elected MPPs to cabinet, including Michael Ford, the premier's 28-year-old nephew, who is the minister of citizenship and multiculturalism. Michael Ford was a Toronto city councillor for Etobicoke North from 2016 to 2022 and served as the ward's school board trustee from 2014 to 2016.
(Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism, Michael Ford shakes hands with Premier Doug Ford as Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario Elizabeth Dowdeswell looks on, at the swearing-in ceremony at Queenís Park in Toronto on June 24, 2022. Nathan Denette/The Canadian Press.)
Michael Ford said anyone who thinks he got the job because of his last name is wrong.
"I completely dismiss that. I've had the honour of serving on the Toronto District School Board, serving on Toronto city council in one of the most diverse communities, in one of the most diverse cities in the world," he said.
The NDP saw it differently.
"There are plenty of people, people of colour, in Ford's caucus that could take that position, and he chose to appoint his nephew," Burch said. "As we all know, his qualifications, they're dubious. People can make up their own minds, but I think the facts speak for themselves."
Another newly elected MPP to join cabinet is Michael Kerzner, an entrepreneur, who is solicitor general.
Neil Lumsden, a former CFL player, is minister of tourism, culture and sport, replacing MacLeod.
Graydon Smith, the former mayor of Bracebridge, is minister of natural resources and forestry.
George Pirie, the former mayor of Timmins, is minister of mines, with a mandate to develop the Ring of Fire mining development, which was a promise Ford made in the 2018 campaign.
Charmaine Williams, a former Brampton city councillor, is associate minister of women’s social and economic opportunity.
Ford is premier and minister of intergovernmental affairs.
The other ministers are:
- Peter Bethlenfalvy, minister of finance
- Paul Calandra, minister of long-term care and minister of legislative affairs and government
- Raymond Cho, minister for seniors and accessibility
- Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing
- Doug Downey, attorney general
- Jill Dunlop, minister of colleges and universities
- Vic Fedeli, minister of economic development, job creation and trade, with an additional
mandate for small business
- Merrilee Fullerton, minister of children, community and social services
- Parm Gill, minister of red tape reduction
- Stephen Lecce, minister of education
- Monte McNaughton, minister of labour, immigration, training and skills development
- Caroline Mulroney, minister of transportation and minister of francophone affairs
- David Piccini, minister of the environment, conservation and parks
- Kaleed Rasheed, minister of public and business service delivery
- Greg Rickford, minister of northern development and minister of Indigenous affairs
- Prabmeet Sarkaria, president of the Treasury Board, with an expanded mandate for
emergency management and procurement, including Supply Ontario
- Todd Smith, minister of energy
- Kinga Surma, minister of infrastructure, with an additional mandate for government real estate
- Lisa Thompson, minister of agriculture, food and rural affairs
- Stan Cho, associate minister of transportation
- Michael Parsa, associate minister of housing
- Michael Tibollo, associate minister of mental health and addictions
Ford's caucus jumped from 67 seats at dissolution to 83, giving him 16 more MPPs to choose from. With an even larger majority and two leaderless opposition parties, the PCs have plenty of power in the legislature.
Before the election, Ford's cabinet had 17 men and nine women, not including the premier himself — today's is made up of seven women and 22 men.
There are more racialized members of cabinet. Before the election, five ministers were members of racialized communities. With Charmaine Williams getting associate minister of women's social and economic opportunity, there are now six.
Ford's team now boasts more ministers from northern Ontario, a region the PCs did well in on June 2, at the NDP's expense.
Timmins MPP George Pirie and Parry Sound-Muskoka's Graydon Smith add to existing northern Ontario ministers Greg Rickford and Vic Fedeli.
Ford also added an extra Toronto-area MPP to cabinet, with Michael Kerzner taking over the solicitor general's office.
There is serious work to be done in several portfolios. In education, negotiations with the teachers' unions are shaping up to be fraught. The PCs also have to reintroduce the budget, and all signs are pointing toward a July sitting.
The new health minister will be required to shore up the health-care system battered by COVID and pick up on the structural reforms Elliott had begun.
The province also faces the daunting task of increasing Ontario's housing supply by at least 1.5 million homes over 10 years, something Ford repeatedly promised would happen during the campaign.
Ford went through three different finance ministers for his first three budgets but will maintain consistency with the reappointment of Bethlenfalvy.
He is expected to reintroduce the budget he first tabled on April 28, with some "tweaks." Those include a five per cent increase to the Ontario Disability Support Program that Ford announced during the campaign.
Ford's main campaign promises were infrastructure-related, including building hospitals, and Highway 413 and the Bradford Bypass.
With files from Jessica Smith Cross.