OMSSA Policy Update | June 20, 2019
Premier Ford Shuffles Cabinet
Premier Ford has made major changes to his cabinet in an attempt to reset his government.

In recent weeks, the Premier has seen a decline in his approval rating and support for his Ontario PC government. 

This morning's cabinet shuffle happens a little over a year after his election win in June 2018. Unlike his previous shuffle, where shifts were mostly minor, this shuffle brings in sweeping changes in some of the most senior portfolios.

Several new appointments have direct implications for human services, with changes affecting the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services; the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities and the Ministry of Education. 

Minister Steve Clark retains his portfolio in the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, and Minister Christine Elliott retains her position as Deputy Premier and Minister of Health. New Associate Ministers have been added for Long-Term Care and Mental Health and Addictions.
Changes Impacting OMSSA and Human Services
OMSSA looks forward to working with new Ministers at the Ministries of Children, Community and Social Services; Training, Colleges and Universities; and Education as we move forward with social assistance reform, employment system service management and the Province's new child care plan. 

With no changes to the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing, the status quo remains on issues like Community Housing Renewal, the Housing Supply Action Plan and the Regional Review.
Stephen Lecce replaces Lisa Thompson
OMSSA had the opportunity to meet with the previous Minister of Education Lisa Thompson on May 30, as well as at the AMO Conference in August 2018. Both meetings were positive and OMSSA appreciates the Minister taking the time to meet with us.

Following the provincial budget, changes in allocations, administration and cost sharing in the area of early years and child care led to controversy, given that municipal budgets had already been passed. Following a strong advocacy campaign by Mayor John Tory and the City of Toronto, these changes were reversed and deferred until January 2020. 

The Minister also found herself battling teachers unions over changes to class sizes, with various school boards declaring teachers surplus, despite promises that no teacher would lose their job involuntarily. Sensitive negotiations are coming up with the teachers unions this summer and the Premier has decided to make a change ahead of the upcoming school year. Minister Lisa Thompson has now been moved to the Ministry of Government and Community Services.
At 32, Stephen Lecce is the youngest Education Minister in decades. Bill Davis was also appointed Education Minister in his thirties in 1962. 

Following graduation, Stephen was hired to serve in the PMO under former Prime Minister Stephen Harper. He served as Deputy Director of Communications, before being promoted to Director of Media Relations.

In the most recent provincial election, he was elected as MPP for the riding of Vaughan-King. Lecce was appointed the Deputy Government House Leader, the Parliamentary Assistant to Minister of Infrastructure Monte McNaughton, and the Parliamentary Assistant to Premier Doug Ford. Lecce is seen as a rising star with the Ontario PC government and a strong communicator. 

OMSSA looks forward to working with Minister Lecce on early years and child care.
Todd Smith replaces Lisa MacLeod
OMSSA had a positive meeting with former Minister Lisa MacLeod at the AMO Conference in August 2018 and appreciated her taking the time to speak to OMSSA members at our Policy Conference in December. 

Minister MacLeod had a significant portfolio, with five former Ministries rolled into the new Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services after her appointment.

During her time as Minister, she oversaw the cancellation of the Basic Income Pilot project, introduced plans for social assistance reform and was a supporter of human services integration. MacLeod also battled with the federal government to recover costs associated with refugee and asylum seekers.

Changes to the autism program resulted in large scale protests. In today’s shuffle, she now moves to the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, retaining none of her former portfolio.
Todd Smith has now been tasked with resetting the autism file and moving forward with social assistance reform. First elected in 2011, Smith currently represents the riding of Bay of Quinte. 

Following the 2018 provincial election, he was appointed Ontario Government House Leader and Minister of Government and Consumer Services. Following the departure of Jim Wilson, he was appointed Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade in November 2018. 

As a former broadcaster, he is a strong communicator and has the confidence of the Premier. On the autism file, Minister Smith will receive support from Jill Dunlop, who has been appointed Associate Minister of Children and Women's Issues.
Steve Clark retains his position
OMSSA had an opportunity to meet with Minister Steve Clark at the AMO Conference in June 2018. He holds an important portfolio dealing with Community Housing Renewal, the Housing Supply Action Plan, the Regional Review, municipal reporting burdens and municipal affairs. 

As a former AMO President and Mayor of Brockville, elected at age 22, he was one of the youngest Mayors ever elected at the time. Minister Clark quickly renewed the AMO consultation agreement and has been very approachable during his time as Minister. 

Widely respected by municipal politicians and associations, it is seen as positive news that he will retain his portfolio. To date, he has been one of the strongest performers in Premier Ford’s cabinet.
Ross Romano replaces Merrilee Fullerton
Dr. Merrilee Fullerton was elected in 2018 in the riding of Kanata-Carleton. She introduced a 10% tuition fee cut while eliminating free tuition for low income students. She also made changes to student fees and OSAP leading to student protests. 

She also cancelled new university satellite campuses planned for Markham, Brampton and Milton. Coordinated with social assistance reform, her Ministry was also overseeing the changes related for Employment Ontario, Ontario Works and ODSP.
At 39, Ross Ramano is also a young new face to enter cabinet. First elected in a June 2017 by-election, he represents the riding of Sault Ste. Marie. He is a lawyer and a former Councillor in Sault Ste. Marie. He was a Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines. He also served as Parliamentary Assistant in Indigenous Affairs.
Christine Elliot retains her positions
Christine Elliott was the runner up in the January 2018 Ontario PC Leadership race. Following her election win in 2018, she currently represents the riding of Newmarket-Aurora. She also ran for Ontario PC Leader in 2009 and 2015. In 2015, she was appointed as Ontario's first Patient Ombudsman. She is the co-founder and director of the Abilities Centre in Durham and was a lawyer prior to entering politics. 

Minister Elliott has overseen major changes to the health care system, including the elimination of the LHINs, changes to public health and the creation of the new super health agency. In public health, there was backlash to reducing public health units from 35 to 10 and changes to funding that were later reversed. 

Minister Elliott will retain her portfolio in health, but it has now been split.  Merrilee Fullerton will now take over as Minister of Long-Term Care.  Michael Tibollo moves from Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport and now becomes Associate Minister of Mental Health and Addictions. Tibollo will now oversee the 10 year, $3.8 billion investment in mental health.
Rod Phillips replaces Vic Fedeli
Vic Fedeli has been shuffled out as Minister of Finance after his first budget. He served as Mayor of North Bay from 2003 to 2010 and was first elected as MPP for Nipissing in 2011. Following the resignation of Patrick Brown as Ontario PC Party Leader in January 2011, Vic served as interim leader until Doug Ford won the leadership race. 

While initial headlines were positive on Fedeli’s first budget, polling numbers and the Premier’s approval rating started to drop once the extent of cuts became known. The issue hit a boiling point at the Toronto Raptors championship parade when the Premier was booed by the large GTA crowd despite John Tory and Justin Trudeau getting positive reactions. 

It appears Minister Fedeli is taking the fall for the communications around the budget and the need to “reset” after only a year in office. Vic Fedeli will now be the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade. He retains his position as Chair of Cabinet.
Rod Phillips will now take over as Minister of Finance. Considered a moderate, he is being rewarded for his work managing the cancellation of cap and trade and his opposition to the carbon tax as Minister of the Environment.

Minister Phillips is the former chair of Postmedia and former president and CEO of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. He is also the former chair of CivicAction, an organization dedicated to civic engagement and city building in the GTHA.
Peter Bethlenfalvy retains his position
Peter Bethlenfalvy retains his position as President of the Treasury Board. He was rumoured to be considered as Minister of Finance.

First elected in 2018, Bethlenfalvy represents the riding of Pickering-Uxbridge. Bethlenfalvy previously served as the chief investment officer at CST Consultants Inc.

He has also held various other senior financial roles: senior vice-president of financial regulations at Manulife Financial, co-president of DBRS Ltd. and as SVP of Toronto Dominion Bank in New York. 

Well-respected on Bay Street, Bethlenfalvy is tasked with getting Ontario’s finances back on track. Treasury Board is responsible for getting the provincial budget back to balance and approves all spending for each Ministry.
Full Ontario Cabinet
  • 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: Merrilee Fullerton
  • Minister of Finance: Rod Phillips
  • Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade and Chair of Cabinet: Vic Fedeli
  • Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction: Prabmeet Sarkaria
  • Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing: Steve Clark
  • Solicitor General: Sylvia Jones
  • Minister of Environment, Conservation and Parks: Jeff Yurek
  • Minister of Children, Community and Social Services: Todd Smith  
  • Associate Minister of Children and Women's Issues: Jill Dunlop
  • Minister of Labour: Monte McNaughton
  • Attorney General: Doug Downey
  • Minister of Transportation and Minister of Francophone Affairs: Caroline Mulroney
  • Associate Minister of Transportation (GTA): Kinga Surma
  • Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities: Ross Romano
  • Minister of Education: Stephen Lecce
  • President of the Treasury Board: Peter Bethlenfalvy
  • Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry: John Yakabuski
  • Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Minister of Indigenous Affairs: Greg Rickford
  • Associate Minister of Energy: Bill Walker
  • Minister for Seniors and Accessibility: Raymond Cho
  • Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs: Ernie Hardeman
  • Minister of Infrastructure: Laurie Scott
  • Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport: Lisa MacLeod
  • Minister of Government and Consumer Services: Lisa Thompson
  • Government House Leader: Paul Calandra
Today there was a large cabinet shuffle with many changes. The cabinet itself will expand from 21 to 28. While the changes have been major, it is unclear if the government intends to change policy or simply communication around each of these portfolios. 

New Ministers will spend the summer getting up to speed on their portfolios and will be briefed by the OPS. Currently, the Legislature is on summer break until after the federal election. MPPs will return to Queen’s Park on October 28, 2019. 

Thank you for taking the time to read the Policy Report.
Personal regards,
Darryl Wolk
Manager, Policy Development & Public Affairs