Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne announced a shuffle and expansion of her cabinet, which will now contain more female ministers. Wynne stated, “These ministers bring experience, energy, fresh ideas and diversity to the cabinet table.”
Some of the long-term ministers who were also part of former Premier Dalton McGuinty’s cabinet will remain, including Charles Sousa as Finance Minister, Eric Hoskins as Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, and Glen Murray as Minister of the Environment and Climate Change.
Ontario’s cabinet will be expanded from 27 to 30 minister positions.
“Wynne expanded the size of the cabinet so she could appoint more women,” said Nelson Wiseman, U of T professor of Canadian politics and director of the Canadian Studies program. “I think Wynne felt pressured after Trudeau appointed women to as many cabinet portfolios as men.”
In comparison, Wynne created a 40 per cent female cabinet, and Trudeau created a 50 per cent female cabinet.
Wynne’s expansion also creates three new portfolios, as she divided some of the larger ministries. There are now separate ministers for Housing, International Trade, and Infrastructure.
Included as new members of the cabinet are: Laura Albanese, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration; Chris Ballard, Minister Responsible for the Poverty Reduction Strategy and Minister of Housing; Marie-France Lalonde, Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs Minister and Minister of Government and Consumer Services; Kathryn McGarry, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry; Eleanor McMahon Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport; Glenn Thibeault, Minister of Energy; and Indira Naidoo-Harris, Associate Minister of Finance (Ontario Retirement Pension Plan).
These changes to the cabinet come after four ministers recently announced their departure, including former Attorney General Madeleine Meilleur and former Chair of Cabinet Jim Bradley.
According to Wiseman, “Election campaign planning begins much earlier now so that MPPs are asked to commit now to whether they will run again in 2018. Since some cabinet ministers were not planning to run, [Wynne] had them resign now to open up some cabinet posts.”
The announcement also included Deputy Premier Deb Matthews’ new appointments as Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development and Minister Responsible for Digital Government.
“Wynne trusts her advice, judgement, and competence,” Wiseman stated.
Matthews’ appointment to Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development will see her take on the responsibilities of the recently revamped Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities. Previously, Reza Moridi served as Minister of Training, Colleges, and Universities; Moridi will now serve as the Minister of Research, Innovation, and Science.
Within her new role, Matthews will be overseeing the launch of the Ontario Student Grant program in September 2017, which is expected to lower or cover the costs of tuition for university students. In addition, Matthews will be charged with equipping the Ontario workforce with the necessary skills in order to compete within the global economy.