NEWS: Federal cabinet shuffle sees creation of ministry focused solely on seniors

After weeks of speculation, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced changes to his front bench as his government prepares for next year’s election. Today’s cabinet shuffle resulted in the creation of a ministry solely focused on seniors with Filomena Tassi assuming the role of Minister of Seniors.

Bill Blair, former Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Health and to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, becomes the minister of the newly created Ministry of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction. The new Parliamentary Secretary for health is expected to be announced shortly.

Ginette Petitpas Taylor’s role as the Minister of Health remains unchanged. Ms. Petitpas Taylor, who announced her candidacy for the 2019 election earlier this month, won her seat in the 2015 election by a margin of 37 percentage points.

New ministers added to the cabinet:

  • Bill Blair becomes Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction.
  • Filomena Tassi becomes Minister of Seniors.
  • Mary Ng becomes Minister for Small Business and Export Promotion.
  • Jonathan Wilkinson becomes Minister of Fisheries, Oceans and the Canadian Coast Guard.
  • Pablo Rodriguez becomes Minister of Heritage and Multiculturalism.

Ministers with changed roles:

  • Dominic LeBlanc moves from Fisheries and Oceans to Intergovernmental Affairs, Northern Affairs and Internal Trade.
  • Amarjeet Sohi moves from Infrastructure to Natural Resources.
  • Carla Qualtrough, remains Minister of Public Services and Procurement and gets the added portfolio of Accessibility.
  • Jim Carr moves from Natural Resources to International Trade Diversification.
  • Mélanie Joly goes from Heritage to Minister of Tourism, Official languages and la Francophonie.
  • François-Philippe Champagne moves from International Trade to Infrastructure and Communities.

Today’s announcement will impact health policy in the following ways:

  • With the creation of a seniors ministry, the federal government has committed to senior’s care as an election issue;
  • The adjusted cabinet plays a large role in cannabis implementation, from both a regulatory and public safety standpoint;
  • Pharmacare is full speed ahead, as with some initiatives that the government believes underlies pharmacare like Patented Medicine Prices Review Board (PMPRB);
  • And a long list of other to-dos can be addressed including healthy eating initiatives, health accord outcomes, etc.

Soon, the Prime Minister will release mandate letters for the new ministers. This will provide key insights on ministers focus and priorities leading up to the 2019 election.

A cabinet shuffle heading into an election year is common as the government promotes good performers, shuffles underperformers, gives a boost to MPs who need the profile to win their riding and ultimately reframes the government to switch to election mode.

Finally, there will be questions as to whether or not the government will prorogue parliament and return with a Throne Speech. While this provides a key opportunity to highlight the governments changing focus in their final year, it would also impact any legislative initiatives that were in process at the end of the most recent legislative session.

The House is scheduled to resume sitting on September 17, 2018