All three Central Okanagan MLAs are now in the B.C. cabinet.
Premier Christy Clark unveiled her new cabinet Wednesday following the announced departure of 13 Liberal MLAs, including several high-profile cabinet ministers such as Kevin Falcon (finance) George Abbott (health) and Blair Lekstrom (transportation).
Heading into the cabinet for the first time is Kelonwa-Lake Country MLA Norm Letnick as the province’s new agriculture minister, and a return for Westside-Kelowna MLA Ben Stewart as citizen services minister. Kelowna-Mission MLA Steve Thomson retains his forests, lands and natural resource operations portfolio.
In announcing the cabinet shuffle, Clark said her new cabinet would have a focus on a strong and growing economy, controlling spending and making life more affordable for families.
“Our government is delivering for British Columbians. This new cabinet brings a renewed commitment to our priorities,” said Clark. “That means staying focused on jobs and fiscal discipline and continuing our efforts to make life more affordable for B.C. families. I have directed each minister to stay focused on these priorities.”
The new cabinet is made up of 16 ministers and two ministers of state, plus the premier. No new ministries have been added, keeping the size of the cabinet smaller than pre-2011 levels.
There is a new cabinet working group focused on family affordability, and the cabinet committee on jobs and economic growth now includes skills training.
The Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation has been realigned as the Ministry of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training, with the same minister also responsible for Labour. The reorganization is in recognition of the dynamic labour needs that vary across our province, because ensuring British Columbians have the right skills for the right job is integral to maintaining a strong economy, said the premier’s office.
The Ministry for Advanced Education is now also responsible for Innovation and Technology, a reflection that in today’s economy post-secondary institutions are key drivers in innovation and technology, and students will be more work-ready with an education that is keeping pace with the latest advancements, said the government. The changes to the Ministry of Energy and Mines reinforce Natural Gas as an economic development priority for the government.
The new cabinet is:
- Premier – Christy Clark
- Minister of Energy, Mines and Natural Gas and Minister Responsible for Housing and Deputy Premier – Rich Coleman
- Minister of Finance and House Leader – Mike de Jong
- Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation – Ida Chong
- Minister of Advanced Education, Innovation and Technology and Minister Responsible for Multiculturalism – John Yap
- Minister of Agriculture – Norm Letnick
- Minister of Children and Family Development – Stephanie Cadieux
- Minister of Citizens’ Services and Open Government – Ben Stewart
- Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development – Bill Bennett
- Minister of Education – Don McRae
- Minister of Environment – Terry Lake
- Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations – Steve Thomson
- Minister of Health – Margaret MacDiarmid
- Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Skills Training and Minister Responsible for Labour – Pat Bell
- Minister of Justice and Attorney General – Shirley Bond
- Minister of Social Development – Moira Stilwell
- Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure – Mary Polak
- Minister of State for Seniors – Ralph Sultan
- Minister of State for Small Business – Naomi Yamamoto
Additionally, nine MLAs have been named as parliamentary secretaries, and will work with ministers to focus on key initiatives of government, such as independent schools, student support and engagement, Asia-Pacific, and forestry. Doug Horne will serve as the parliamentary secretary to the Premier.
Mike de Jong will serve as the government House Leader and Terry Lake will be the deputy government House Leader. Eric Foster will be the government Whip and Pat Pimm will be deputy Whip.
“With this renewed team, we will be building on the progress of the last 18 months: our Jobs Plan, capping BC Hydro rate increases, increasing the minimum wage, reviewing the justice system, auditing of Crown corporations to eliminate waste and getting on track to balance the budget,” said Clark. We are also taking advantage of B.C.’s trillion-dollar natural gas opportunity and expanding trade with Asia. Our government is committed to standing up and defending our province’s interests and we will continue to deliver for British Columbians.”