TORONTO – Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and her revamped cabinet are being sworn in as they prepare to implement their agenda with a strengthened majority government.
Wynne is breaking apart the massive finance portfolio in a move that appears to signal her resolve to eliminate a $ 12.5-billion deficit.
Charles Sousa is staying on as finance minister, but will have some big files taken off his plate, as newcomer Mitzie Hunter — the new associate minister of finance — will be in charge of setting up a made-in-Ontario pension plan by 2017.
Veteran Deb Matthews has been installed as president of the Treasury Board and will be taking on tough negotiations with public sector workers to freeze wages.
Wynne is also putting a fresh face on the troubled health portfolio, with Eric Hoskins — former minister of economic development, trade and employment — taking over the file.
But Hoskins will have an extra hand with associate minister Dipika Damerla in managing a ministry that’s been raked over the coals for the spending scandal at the province’s Ornge air ambulance service.
Transportation Minister Steven Del Duca is moving up to the front benches to take on another top priority: administering a $ 29-billion fund over 10 years to build transit and transportation infrastructure across the province.
His predecessor, Glen Murray, is minister of environment and climate change, freeing up Jim Bradley — one of the longest serving MPPs — who’ll still sit in cabinet as chairman.
Brad Duguid also took on a bigger role as minister of economic development, employment and infrastructure, Michael Coteau was put in charge of the 2015 Pan Am Games as well as tourism, culture and sport, while Michael Chan transfers to citizenship, immigration and international trade.
Ted McMeekin serves as minister of municipal affairs and housing, while Helena Jaczek takes over his old job at community and social services.
David Orazietti moves to the revamped government and consumer services ministry.
Several minister will keep their old jobs, including Liz Sandals in education, Bob Chiarelli in energy, Madeleine Meilleur as attorney general, Michael Gravelle at northern development and mines, Kevin Flynn in labour and David Zimmer at aboriginal affairs.
Community Safety and Correctional Services Minister Yasir Naqvi will add government house leader to his title with Bradley as deputy.
Wynne will hand over her role as minister of agriculture and food to Rural Affairs Minister Jeff Leal, but will keep her job as minister of intergovernmental affairs.
The next step is bringing the legislature back on July 2 and re-introducing the same budget that triggered the snap June 12 election.
With a majority of seats in the legislature, Wynne now has the power to ram through the budget that triggered the June 12 election and pass government legislation more quickly.
The $ 130.4-billion spending blueprint aims to stimulate the economy with big spending, including $ 2.5 billion in corporate grants to lure businesses to Ontario and better wages for workers in health care and education.
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