It’s been 5 weeks since Ontario’s election. Cabinet has since been announced, Deputy Ministers have been put in place, and new Chiefs of Staff will be starting this week. Downstream, staffing decisions will be finalized over the next few weeks and business should return to normal this month. Here is a rundown of the weeks since the election, where things will likely go next, and what this may mean for your advocacy strategy in Ontario.
Starting with the Cabinet, there were several key changes that will significantly affect the makeup of Doug Ford’s executive council. Sylvia Jones became the new Deputy Premier and Minister of Health, and Michael Kerzner was tapped to take her previous role as Solicitor General.
Kaleed Rasheed was picked to lead the new Ministry of Public and Business Service Delivery, which replaces the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. The new ministry will add the Ontario Digital Service under its umbrella, shed Supply Ontario to Treasury Board, and the management of the government’s real estate portfolio will now belong to the Ministry of Infrastructure.
Prabmeet Sarkaria is staying on as President of the Treasury Board, but his role will be expanding, as Supply Ontario and Emergency Management will now report into his Ministry.
The Ministries of Northern Development and Indigenous Affairs will continue under Greg Rickford with the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry being led by Graydon Smith. George Pirie will become the new Minister of Mines in a newly created role.
Parm Gill has taken over the Red Tape file as the new Minister of Red Tape, and this includes a new Ministry being created to support his mandate.
Neil Lumsden will be the new Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, giving Hamilton its first Minister under the Ford Government.
On June 27th, Deputy Ministers were appointed. Some key shifts have occurred and corresponded to the changes in several Ministry mandates. Hillary Hartley will continue as the Chief Digital and Data Officer in the government, and will also become the Deputy Minister, Digital Strategy in Cabinet Office.
Renu Kulendran is the new Deputy Minister for Public and Business and Service Delivery, which is a continuation of her previous role as Deputy Minister for the Ministry of Government and Consumer Services. She will also be overseeing the Ontario Digital Service in this new role.
Stephen Rhodes will be the new Deputy Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade and will continue as Deputy Minister of Energy in the interim. Additionally, Maud Murray will be the new Deputy Minister for Red Tape Reduction, moving over from the Ministry of Economic Development, Job Creation, and Trade. This is reflective of Red Tape Reduction being a new standalone ministry.
What Happens Next?
Premier Ford has publicly stated that the legislature will return on August 8, 2022. When the legislature returns, MPPs will first need to elect a speaker, and this will be followed by the Lieutenant Governor’s Throne Speech. Later that week it is expected that the Ford government will re-release their new 2022 Budget and table the associated legislative package. For MPPs, this means that the legislature will need to sit for roughly five weeks over the summer to get the budget passed. Ministers will also need to be in Toronto for question period.
Cabinet and Cabinet committees will also begin meeting this month on a regular basis, bringing back the final step for government approvals and allowing policy initiatives to move forward.
The appointment of the new Cabinet has also ended the caretaker period for the public service, allowing public servants to begin implementing the government’s new agenda. This also means that advocacy strategies can begin again as Ministers, their staff, and ministry Officials will be able to meet with external stakeholders.
Government procurement will also resume as ministry officials will no longer be bound by the rules of the caretaker period, and will engage in the practices and approval process laid out in the procurement directive.
For stakeholders who want to meet with government officials, it is recommended that they begin developing their engagement strategies immediately. Over the coming weeks, offices will begin to be receptive to meeting requests that align with the priorities that the government will identify in its upcoming budget. This can provide helpful entry points for stakeholder groups looking to share their ideas with the government and advocate for their policy positions.
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Ensuring that you’re able to speak with the right people at the right time is critical in your advocacy strategy. Reach out to our experienced consultants if you need to make an impact with decision makers in the Ontario government.