Newly sworn-in British Columbia Premier David Eby has announced his new cabinet, with the shuffle bringing a blend of ministerial veterans and newbies alike. Out of 27 ministers and ministers of state, eight of Eby’s appointees are newcomers to cabinet positions, in an attempt to mirror the wide range of life experiences and demographics that B.C. encompasses. The new cabinet includes 15 women and seven people of colour.
In three significant shakeups, Eby first moved MLA Ravi Khalon from the Jobs Ministry to the newly minted Ministry of Housing. This was followed by Parliamentary Secretary Niki Sharma’s promotion to the high-profile file of attorney general, a position Eby himself held prior to being elected BC NDP leader. Unexpectedly, Eby also removed Selina Robinson from the Finance Ministry, replacing her with outgoing Minister of Forests, Katrine Conroy. Eby said the changes to cabinet strengthen his team.
“British Columbia is a wonderful place to live, but people are looking for action on the issues facing them and their families,” Eby said.
“If the pandemic taught us anything, it’s that we can’t solve these problems alone. We need to solve them together. My team of determined colleagues will use a wealth and variety of experiences to continue the good work we’ve started and go further to deliver results people can see and feel in their communities.”
Despite a number of changes to cabinet, a number of seasoned veterans will stay with their current portfolio. Rob Fleming and Adrian Dix will remain Minister of Transport and Infrastructure and Minister of Health, respectively. Dix will additionally pick up the Francophone Affairs file. Environment Minister George Heyman and Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth will retain their positions with no changes. Pam Alexis will replace Lana Popham as agriculture minister, with Popham moving to the Ministry of Tourism, Arts, Culture, and Sport.
Former education minister Jennifer Whiteside is shifting to the Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions, with former parliamentary secretary, Rachna Singh, moving up to fill the education minister role. In addition to the Ministry of Housing, headed by Ravi Kahlon, the Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness was also created. Bowinn Ma will take up this new post. Critics said that despite the addition of new ministries, the government remains unable to address the concerns of British Columbians.
“While the NDP may have anointed a new Premier and grown the size of Cabinet, British Columbians still haven’t seen things improve after continued NDP inaction on the important issues facing people in every corner of our province,” said Kevin Falcon, B.C’s opposition leader who serves as the MLA for Vancouver – Quilchena and leader of the BC Liberal party.
“Our BC Liberal Caucus remains committed to holding them to account for that lack of action in areas like healthcare, affordability, and public safety, all while continuing to push government for bold responses to the various crises we must collectively tackle.”
Falcon also took issue with the new size of the cabinet, increasing salaries, and called the new team “status quo.” Eby has announced over $1billion in new government initiatives since taking office on November 18, including funding for police officers, health professionals, income supports, and BC Hydro bill credits.
Premier: David Eby
Agriculture and Food: Pam Alexis
Attorney General: Niki Sharma
Children and Family Development: Mitzi Dean
Citizens’ Services: Lisa Beare
Education and Child Care: Rachna Singh
Emergency Management and Climate Readiness: Bowinn Ma
Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation: Josie Osborne
Environment and Climate Change Strategy: George Heyman
Finance: Katrine Conroy
Forests: Bruce Ralston
Health and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs: Adrian Dix
Housing and Government House Leader: Ravi Kahlon
Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation: Murray Rankin
Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation: Brenda Bailey
Labour: Harry Bains
Mental Health and Addictions: Jennifer Whiteside
Municipal Affairs: Anne Kang
Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills: Selina Robinson
Public Safety and Solicitor General: Mike Farnworth
Social Development and Poverty Reduction: Sheila Malcolmson
Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport: Lana Popham
Transportation and Infrastructure: Rob Fleming
Water, Land and Resource Stewardship (Fisheries): Nathan Cullen
Minister of State for Child Care: Grace Lore
Minister of State for Trade: Jagrup Brar
Minister of State for Workforce Development: Andrew Mercier
Minister of State for Infrastructure and Transit: Dan Coulter