Phillips returns to cabinet as Ford shuffles new faces in, some veterans out

Five long-time ministers are leaving cabinet as more youth, female and ethnically diverse voices join table

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Premier Doug Ford shuffled his cabinet Friday in a move to introduce more youth, female and ethnically diverse voices to the decision-making table.

“With 21% of residents now fully vaccinated as Team Ontario sets new records in daily shots, we can be confident that the worst of the pandemic is behind us,” Ford said in a statement.

“As we continue our work to rebuild and support Ontario’s health system, our renewed team is well positioned to deliver on the priorities that matter to Ontarians, including getting more people back to work, making life more affordable, supporting businesses and job creators and building transit infrastructure.”

A government source said these newly minted ministers will replace some seasoned veterans who have been doing the heavy lifting.

“It’s now about looking forward and bringing some of these younger caucus members into cabinet,” the source said.

Returning to cabinet in the role of Long-Term Care (LTC) Minister will be Rod Phillips, who resigned his finance minister post in December after travelling to St. Barts.

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A government source said Phillips is an effective minister with discipline and focus.

“Obviously, he paid a big price for the mistake he made … but now is the time we need all the best players on the ice,” the source said.

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Dr. Merrilee Fullerton’s move to the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services should not be viewed as a demotion after her stint at the LTC Ministry, as the new portfolio is one of the largest in government, the source said.

Five long-time ministers are leaving cabinet — Ernie Hardeman, John Yakabuski, Laurie Scott, Jeff Yurek and Bill Walker — although all are believed to still be running in next year’s general election.

“There’s only so many seats at the table,” the source said.

aartuso@postmedia.com

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FORD’S CABINET CHANGES

Jill Dunlop, Simcoe North (former Associate Minister Children and Women’s Issues): Minister of Colleges and Universities.

Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Kanata-Carleton (former Minister of Long-term Care): Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.

NEW — Parm Gill, Milton: Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism.

RETURNING — Rod Phillips, Ajax: Minister of Long-Term Care.

NEW — Dave Piccini, Northumberland-Peterborough South: Minister of Environment.

Greg Rickford, Kenora-Rainy River (formerly also Minister of Energy): Minister of Northern Development, Mining, Natural Resources and Forestry, as well as Indigenous Affairs.

Todd Smith, Bay of Quinte (former Minister of Children, Community and Social Services): Minister of Energy.

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Ross Romano, Sault Ste. Marie (former Minister of Colleges and Universities): Minister of Government and Consumer Services.

Prabmeet Singh Sarkaria, Brampton South (former Minister of Small Business): President of the Treasury Board.

Kinga Surma, Etobicoke Centre (former Associate Minister of Transportation): Minister of Infrastructure.

Lisa Thompson, Huron Bruce (former Minister of Government and Consumer Services): Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.

NEW — Stan Cho, Willowdale: Associate Minister of Transportation.

NEW — Jane McKenna, Burlington: Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues.

NEW — Nina Tangri, Mississauga Streetsville: Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape

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NEW — Kaleed Rasheed, Mississauga East-Cooksville: Associate Minister of Digital Government.

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STAYING PUT

Peter Bethlenfalvy: Minister of Finance (no longer Treasury Board President)

Paul Calandra: Government House Leader

Raymond Cho: Minister for Seniors and Accessibility

Steve Clark: Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

Doug Downey: Attorney General

Christine Elliott: Minister of Health

Vic Fedeli: Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade

Sylvia Jones: Solicitor General

Stephen Lecce: Minister of Education

Lisa MacLeod: Minister of Heritage, Sport, Tourism and Culture Industries

Monte McNaughton: Minister of Labour, Training and Skills Development

Caroline Mulroney: Minister of Transportation

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Michael Tibollo: Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions

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SLAGGING THE SHUFFLE

“By leaving Christine Elliott and Stephen Lecce in place, Ford is rewarding the two people that share responsibility with him for one of the most incompetent responses to COVID-19 in the western world.”

— Liberal MPP Stephen Blais

“What is deeply troubling to us today is Rod Phillips has been appointed as the Minister of Long-term Care… For the Ford government to appoint a (former finance) Minister that was missing in action during the second wave and frankly on vacation in the tropics while seniors died in long-term care is concerning.”

— NDP MPP Sara Singh

“Today’s cabinet shuffle proves that Doug Ford would rather focus on re-election rather than helping Ontarians recover from this pandemic. Playing musical chairs will not fix the public health, economic and environmental crises this province faces.”

— Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner

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