Change officially comes to Queen's Park

 Photo: Benson Kua

Photo: Benson Kua

Change officially comes to Queen’s Park today, with Doug Ford sworn in as the 26th Premier of Canada’s largest province. After a bitter election that saw the incumbent Liberals sink to third-party status and the NDP surging to the opposition benches, Ontario now has a Progressive Conservative government for the first time in fifteen years.

Braving truly sweltering heat, Ford was sworn in outside in public (not seen since former Liberal Premier David Peterson did the same in 1985), on the front steps of Queen’s Park in front of hundreds of supporters in a nod to his campaign promise that his government will be for the people.

In what could be considered a sort of mini throne speech, the newly minted Premier listed off his government’s key priorities that his cabinet will tackle as soon a possible. This included pushing back against the federal government’s cap-and-trade program, vowing to create more jobs and prosperity and stand shoulder-to-shoulder with his provincial counterparts in defence of Nafta. Most importantly, he pledged to conducting a full audit of government spending, saying the PCs will review everything “line item, by line item” to back up his promise to find $6 billion in efficiencies.

Despite Ford’s twelve-minute speech, his plan still lacks specifics. The Tories have yet to release a fully-costed platform, causing uncertainty for a lot of industries across the province who fear their funding could get axed. They have good reason to worry, and Ford is moving fast, having already announced a government-wide spending and hiring freeze.

Ford’s cabinet is a mix of political heavyweights and newcomers, including his party leadership rivals. First-time MPP and Harvard educated lawyer Caroline Mulroney has been tapped as Attorney- General and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs. Party stalwart Christine Elliott is Deputy Premier and Minister of Health and Long-Term Care. Here are the rest of his cabinet appointments:

  • Ford himself will also serve as Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs

  • Peter Bethlenfalvy, President of the Treasury Board

  • Raymond Cho, Minister of Seniors and Accessibility

  • Steve Clark, Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing

  • Vic Fedeli, Minister of Finance and Chair of Cabinet

  • Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Training, Colleges and Universities

  • Ernie Hardeman, Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

  • Sylvia Jones, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport

  • Lisa MacLeod, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services and Minister Responsible for Women’s Issues

  • Monte McNaughton, Minister of Infrastructure

  • Rod Phillips, Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks

  • Greg Rickford, Minister of Energy, Northern Development and Mines, and Minister of Indigenous Affairs

  • Laurie Scott, Minister of Labour

  • Todd Smith, Minister of Government and Consumer Services, and Government House Leader

  • Lisa Thompson, Minister of Education

  • Michael Tibollo, Minister of Community, Safety and Correctional Services

  • Jim Wilson, Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade

  • John Yakabuski, Minister of Transportation

  • Jeff Yurek, Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry

The new government isn’t wasting any time either. They are holding their first cabinet meeting today, and will be recalling the legislature for a rare summer session on July 9 to tackle a number of issues such as high gas prices and Ottawa’s plan to force provinces to adopt their cap-and-trade carbon tax policy which Ford has vowed to fight.

So what does this all mean for Ontarians? One thing for sure is that we are going to see a lot of belt-tightening and that programs the government doesn't view as integral to the health and security of the province should be on notice to see their funding levels reduced or cut altogether. Provident will be monitoring the events at Queen’s Park and is ready to assist your organization navigate the complexities that a new government brings and how it will impact your mandate.