Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s new cabinet to be sworn in Friday

By Allison Jones in Toronto

Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s cabinet will be sworn in on Friday, as he gets set to name an executive council out of his new and larger Progressive Conservative caucus.

The ceremony is set to take place at 10 a.m., followed by remarks by the premier. Invitations have gone out to guests, but a senior government source says the premier has not yet made the calls to new cabinet ministers to inform them of their new posts.

Ford’s previous cabinet had 28 people in it, but he has a much larger caucus to choose from this time, with 83 Tories elected earlier this month.

That’s leading to some speculation that Ford will increase the size of his cabinet, perhaps by breaking up larger ministries into more focused portfolios.

Health and education will be two important jobs for Ford to fill, both as the two largest ministries and with the government planning billions in hospital infrastructure spending and teacher negotiations on the horizon.

Christine Elliott, who was the health minister for all four years of Ford’s first government, decided not to run again in this election. Her retirement leaves a large hole, and some observers have suggested Sylvia Jones — who most recently served as Solicitor General — may be in line for that promotion.

Based on the focus of the Progressive Conservatives’ budget — that was introduced but not passed before the election and stood as their platform — ministries overseeing transportation and infrastructure will also be important to the premier.

Much of Ford’s plan centred on building hospitals and highways such as Highway 413, proposed for the Greater Toronto Area.

Ford will likely keep Peter Bethlenfalvy as finance minister. The portfolio is generally one from which governments like to project stability, but Bethlenfalvy ended up being Ford’s third finance minister, after the file saw much turmoil. Vic Fedeli was shuffled out of the portfolio after a much-maligned budget and Rod Phillips resigned after he vacationed in the Caribbean during a provincewide lockdown.

Fedeli was moved to Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade, where he launched an auto strategy that saw the province attract billions in new investments, including a new electric vehicle battery facility in Windsor, Ont.

The next housing minister will also have a mammoth task ahead. 

Ford has pledged to build 1.5 million homes over 10 years, a key recommendation from a government-appointed task force earlier this year.

Legislation that was passed shortly before the election call contained measures to speed up approvals and other processes, but lacked bolder steps such as changing municipal zoning rules to allow more housing to be built aside from single-family homes.

The government blamed a lack of co-operation from municipalities, but the Tories have promised further action on housing supply.