Almost two years to the day of their surprise return to majority government status, the provincial Liberals, and Premier Kathleen Wynne, shuffled the cabinet this morning. Among the maneuvers, Guelph's own cabinet member, MPP Liz Sandals, will no longer be serving as Minister of Education, but don't call this a demotion. She's still a member of the now two-fifths female Ontario cabinet.
In an announcement at Queen's Park this morning, Sandals was named the new President of the Treasury Board. What does that mean? The Government of Ontario website describes the position thusly: "Leading the government's efforts on accountability, openness and modernization. We help deliver good government and excellent public services in the most effective and efficient way possible." That's a lot to live up to considering that the Ontario government promised to balance the budget next year.
While Sandals moves to the Treasury, Mitzie Hunter, MPP for Scarborough-Guildwood, gets promoted to the cabinet to take over as Minister of Education. Hunter is one of five new women named to cabinet, bring the total female representation up to 12; that's 40 per cent of the new 30-member cabinet that's represented by women. Seven new cabinet members were added in all.
Other cabinet moves include Deb Matthews, who will remain Deputy Premier, but will also now be Minister of Advanced Education and Skills Development, and Minister Responsible for Digital Government, a new cabinet position. In other news Indira Naidoo-Harris becomes Associate Minister of Finance responsible for the Ontario Retirement Pension Plan, Michael Chan will represent that now stand-alone Ministry of International Trade, Bob Chiarelli is now the Minister of Infrastructure, Laura Albanese becomes Minister of Citizenship and Immigration, and Glenn Thibeault, who was elected in the controversial Sudbury by-election last year, is the new Minster of Energy.
Dr. Eric Hoskins will remain the Minister of Health and Long-Term Care, and Charles Sousa will stay put as Minister of Finance.
“These ministers bring experience, energy, fresh ideas and diversity to the cabinet table," said Wynne in a statement. "Over the next two years, this is the team that will implement our four-part economic plan to deliver on our number-one priority — jobs and growth.”