By John Swartz
Premier Doug Ford shuffled his cabinet Thursday and Jill Dunlop found she’s been dealt a better hand. The Simcoe North MPP is now the associate minster of children and women’s issues – a sub set of the children, community and social services ministry of which Todd Smith is the new senior minister.
Heading into yesterday’s morning announcement and swearing in, Dunlop did not know many details.
“I got a phone call on Tuesday morning asking if I would accept a position as associate minister,” said Dunlop speaking by phone late Thursday. “I said yes. I didn’t find out until last night what the ministry was going to be.”
She had two working days to wonder what the assignment would be. “I looked at what ministries might be broken down a little bit more and health care was one of those,” Dunlop said, but it turned out to be social services. After the swearing in, she had some time to touch base with the people she will be working with.
“Today we talked about, obviously autism is under this file. We talked about where we are at with that, where we’re going with it,” Dunlop said. She met the team of people working on the issue. “We got to go down and introduce ourselves to those folks. They’re doing great work and a lot of fantastic professionals in the field are all coming together to give their perspective on how we can make the system better.”
Dunlop is known to have an interest in boosting trades in Ontario, finding ways to get more people working as skilled trades people. She may not have as much time for the issue now, but she said she won’t let it go.
“Even today I was speaking about that. I don’t know right now how the trades tie into that,” she said of the children and women’s portfolio. “We’re encouraging young people to get involved in trades, is there opportunity here working with children’s issues? Also with women we’re always encouraging women to look at it as a potential profession, is there a way to do it with that ministry?”
Among the major programs in the larger ministry, Dunlop will have input into social assistance (Ontario Works and Ontario Disability Support Program), community and developmental services, the Family Responsibility Office and the Ontario Strategy to End Human Trafficking, which conceivably all have a relationship to her pet issue of trades.
“If I can look at it with a different perspective with that ministry then I’d like to,” bring trades into the discussion. “It’s something I’m still interested in.” She recently met with the Ontario Home Builders Association and learned they are forecasting 1 million new homes will be built by 2030; “Who is building those homes and who is building the infrastructure to go along with those homes?”
Dunlop said she will be at Queen’s Park all next week being briefed on the work moving over to her ministry within the ministry.
Also, former Orillia councillor Doug Downey was named Ontario’s new Attorney General. Previously he was parliamentary assistant to the minister of finance and deputy government whip.
(Photo Supplied) Simcoe North MPP Jill Dunlop was sworn in as associate minster of children and women’s by the Honourable Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Lieutenant Governor of Ontario.