Broadband tops Scott’s list as she takes new role
By Sue Tiffin
Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock MPP Laurie Scott has been named the Minister of Infrastructure, switching portfolios with Monte McNaughton who takes over the Minister of Labour position Scott has occupied since June of 2018.
“I’m proud and excited to take on the new responsibilities as Minister of Infrastructure, and I’m very grateful for the Premier’s support,” Scott wrote in an email to the Echo. “I’ll have more to say about infrastructure priorities in the coming days, but I wanted to let you know, our government for the people is making historic infrastructure investments and I’m pleased to lead these efforts on behalf of Ontario and of course the people of my riding Haliburton-Kawartha Lakes-Brock.”
She added: “One of the first things I look forward to pushing for in my new portfolio is the expansion of the broadband network, bringing 21st century service to rural areas.“
The second major cabinet shuffle in Doug Ford’s time as premier saw several changes to high-profile cabinet positions on June 20.
“These changes will ensure that the Government of Ontario will effectively continue with its agenda of creating good jobs, supporting small businesses, putting more money in people’s pockets and restoring trust and accountability in government, while also protecting what matters most through sound investments in health care and education,” reads a press release from the office of the premier on June 20.
After the announcement, Ford told media: “I can tell you after a year in office, we made some changes … to make sure we have the right people, in the right place, at the right time, to move forward in year two.”
Caroline Mulroney, who served as attorney general, is now responsible for the ministry of transportation and continues on the francophone affairs portfolio. Doug Downey has been named attorney general.
Vic Fedeli, Ford’s finance minister who oversaw the release of the provincial budget in April this year, was demoted to minister of economic development, job creation and trade. Rod Phillips becomes Minister of Finance.
Lisa Thompson, who was education minister, was demoted to government and consumer services, while Stephen Lecce takes the minister of education role, and Lisa MacLeod, formerly minister of children, community and social services, is now minister of tourism, culture and sport. Todd Smith has been named minister of children, community and social services.
With some additional changes and additions, the Ford cabinet has grown in size from 21 to 28 ministers and associate ministers.
The Ford government has been controversial, facing negative publicity due in part to a plan to change autism services; the end of cap-and-trade; funding cuts to education and increases to class sizes; wide spending cuts to services including le gal aid, public health, library services; increased access to alcohol; and behaviour by MPPs that includes participating in scripted social media campaigns and an abundance of standing ovations in the Ontario Legislature.
Scott was first elected to be HKLB MPP in 2003.
“As Minister of Labour, two of her top priorities are combatting human labour trafficking, and strengthening the role of women in our economy,” reads Scott’s website. “For 15 years, Laurie has been a strong advocate for issues facing rural Ontario. Last fall, she passed legislation to protect rural fire halls and promote public safety in small communities by ending the unfair persecution of double hatters. She has also made key labour reforms that have spurred job creation across the province.”
The day of the announcement, Scott wrote to the Echo: “This past year has been incredibly rewarding and I’m proud to say the changes I had the honour of leading as Minister of Labour alongside Premier Ford and our entire PC team has made Ontario open for business and open for jobs. Since the election last year Ontario has created more than 190,000 jobs. And here at home, our region is seeing new jobs being created and job growth of over 3.5 per cent. This and the changes around volunteer firefighters, have had an enormous positive impact on our community.”
McNaughton posted a photo of the new cabinet to social media an hour after the announcement, saying he was “humbled to be sworn in as Minister of Labour in the Ontario government under Premier Doug Ford.”
Ford’s last cabinet shuffle took place in November 2018, four months into his time as premier. The Ontario legislature is currently on an extended break, returning Oct. 28 after the federal election on Oct. 21, rather than the usual break to Sept. 9.