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Premier Doug Ford changes responsibilities of three cabinet ministers
Ontario Premier Doug Ford speaks at the Associations of Municipalities Ontario conference in Ottawa, Monday, August 19, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld
Ontario Premier Doug Ford has changed the responsibilities of three of his cabinet ministers.
In a statement issued on Monday, Ford said he is re-organizing three portfolios to focus on job creation and small business supports.
Labour Minister Monte McNaughton will now oversee training and skills development. The new duties he will be taking on were previously part of Colleges and Universities Minister Ross Romano’s portfolio.
Lisa MacLeod will now oversee the provincial heritage file in addition to her already existing duties as minister of sport, tourism and culture.
A spokesperson for the premier’s office described the changes as “minor” and said other than additions to the ministers’ titles, the responsibilities and salaries remain the same.
“There was some discussion about the trades file (training and skills development) and whether it would be a better fit in the labour portfolio,” Ivana Yelich said.
Yelich added that there was a lot of “overlap” between the two portfolios already and that is why the premier’s office decided to shuffle the responsibility away from Romano and pass it on to McNaughton.
Also, Yelich said the heritage title was given to MacLeod upon her request because she was “already responsible” for the file.
MacLeod was demoted to the tourism, sport and culture file back in June from the social services ministry after implementing controversial changes to the Ontario Autism program that sparked fierce backlash.
The provincial legislature has been on an extended break since it rose in June but a new session will start next week.
Questions of transparency
The Ford government is facing questions of transparency after announcing the cabinet tweaks behind closed doors, without any advance notice given to the media or the public.
MacLeod and McNaughton were sworn in by the Lieutenant Governor Elizabeth Dowdswell and Premier Doug Ford during an 11 a.m. ceremony held at Queen’s Park. Both ministers later posted photos of the swearing-on social media – the images capture family members and industry stakeholders flanking the politicians.
The changes came as a surprise to members of the media, many of whom occupy offices within Queen’s Park and are a short walk away from the Lieutenant Governor’s suite.
Yelich defended the closed-door ceremony saying “the public and media were notified of the changes by an official statement.”
However, Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner is criticizing Ford for conducting the swearing-in ceremony in private.
“Once again, the Premier did not give the media this courtesy, preferring to operate in secret rather than out in the open,” Schreiner said in a statement.
"Clearly this government has a problem with transparency, making it all the more important that we get back to the legislature to start holding the Premier accountable.”
The legislature resumes on October 28.
CTV News Toronto requested an interview with Ford to discuss the changes following the ceremony, to which Yelich replied saying “the premier’s not available today."