Ontario has a new environment minister with a background in gambling, an energy minister who has taken on Indigenous affairs and no one in cabinet whose main job will be tackling immigration.

These are among some of the details of the first cabinet in Ontario Progressive Conservative Premier Doug Ford's new government.

Ford eliminated or altered some of the ministries of the former Liberal government, reducing the size of cabinet to 21 from 29 and signalling some changed priorities by renaming and merging some responsibilities. One example is the elimination of the Ministry of Citizenship and Immigration.

The changes signal the initial steps the Ford government is taking to reduce the cost and size of government, as the Tories promised to do in the last election.

Opposition parties were less than enthusiastic about the government's new look, criticizing the premier for merging Indigenous affairs with energy, mines and northern affairs; adding Francophone affairs to the attorney general’s portfolio; and replacing the Ministry of the Status of Women with “women’s issues” responsibilities in another portfolio.

Rod Phillips was named minister of the environment, conservation and parks. He is the former chair of Postmedia and former president and CEO of the Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation. His new position is also includes a subtle change that removes the words "climate change" from its title.

The new cabinet features a throng of longtime MPPs, including Victor Fedeli, who was elected MPP of Nipissing in 2011 and served as interim party leader following Patrick Brown's ousting. He was sworn in Friday as minister of finance and chair of cabinet.

Christine Elliott, the deputy premier and minister of health and long-term care, sits among new cabinet at Queen's Park on July 29, 2018. Photo by Alex Tétreault

NDP and Green leaders criticize changes

Among the freshmen is president of the treasury board, Peter Bethlenfalvy of Pickering-Uxbridge, a newly-formed riding. Before taking office, he was a co-president of DBRS Limited, a global credit agency that downgraded the province's debt rating.

Michael Tibollo, the minister of community safety and correctional services, was elected in Vaughan-Woodbrige. He is a lawyer by trade and owner of the firm Tibollo & Associates Professional Corporation, where he specialized in corporate and commercial law. His company bio page says he "holds a fifth-degree black belt in Taekwondo and is an avid beekeeper."

The Ontario NDP criticized the downsizing of core ministries.

“Doug Ford’s decision to make the minister of energy a part-time job is devastating for families who have been struggling for years to keep up with soaring hydro bills,” NDP MPP Sara Singh said in a media release.

"This decision shows that Mr. Ford is not planning to tackle the hydro mess that the Liberals left Ontarians in and leaves families who are already squeezed by sky-rocketing hydro bills to worry.”

The release noted that the cuts included the elimination of the ministries of citizenship and immigration and research, innovation and science.

Those consolidated with others or reduced in stature:

Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation

  • Now included in the Ministry of Energy, Mines, Northern Development and Indigenous Affairs headed by Greg Rickford, who served as natural resources minister in Stephen Harper's former federal government.

Francophone Affairs

Status of Women

  • Lisa MacLeod, who has served as MPP of Nepean—Carleton since 2006, will head the Ministry of Children, Community and Social Services as well as serve as the minister responsible for women's issues.

  • In his statement of congratulations to Ford, Ontario Green Party Leader Mike Schreiner criticized the lack of diversity of his cabinet, adding that "this is made more troubling by the fact that you have have reduced the Ministry of the Status of Women to a non-portfolio responsibility and unnecessarily changed the name to Women’s Issues."

Caroline Mulroney, Ontario's new attorney general and minister of Francophone affairs, at the swearing in ceremony in the legislative assembly June 29, 2018. Photo by Alex Tétreault

Ford's 21-minister cabinet

The full cabinet list, with the premier, includes:

  • Peter Bethlenfalvy, president of the treasury board

  • Raymond Cho, minister for seniors and accessibility

  • Steve Clark, minister of municipal affairs and housing

  • Christine Elliott, minister of health and long-term care and deputy premier

  • Victor Fedeli, minister of finance and chair of cabinet

  • Doug Ford, premier and minister of intergovernmental affairs

  • 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

  • Carolyn Mulroney, attorney general and minister responsible for francophone affairs

  • Rod Phillips, minister of the environment, conservation and parks

  • Greg Rickford, minister of 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

Editor's note: This article was updated at 10:26 a.m. on July 4, 2018 to correct Michael Tibollo's title as minister of community safety and correctional services and to correct the year of Vic Fedeli's first election as an MPP in 2011.

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Not that it matters much but I believe Vic Fedeli was elected MPP of Nipissing in 2011, not 2014 as mentioned in the article. From a historical perspective, I don't want to deprive him of a term in office which should translate into added experience and with hope soumd judgement? So far announcing that Ontario is open for business at the cost of our enviroment and climate, doesn't sound very promising? What's next, eliminate the min wage and all those pesky labour/Occ health and safety regulations? Will that entice big orgs to set up sweat shops in Ontario? It sounds to me like a "carbon" copy of the 1970's Mexican industrial expansion; at any cost and on the backs of the workers. Didn't Henry FORD ensure that his staff were paid enough to buy the products they were building? (Two puns appear in this message; Carbon and Ford , not bad for a Tuesday after a long weekend).

Hi Maurice,

Thank you for reading and for your note – the date of Fedeli's election has been corrected.

Steph Wechsler