Cabinet Shuffle Analysis
Following the October 26, 2021, announcement of a major cabinet reshuffle by Canada’s Prime Minister, Justin Trudeau, Michel Breau, Manager of Government and Community Relations, CDA, gives an overview of the upcoming changes and explains how they may impact the dental profession in Canada.
Parliament will return on November 22, 2021, with the election of a speaker and a Speech from the Throne, outlining the key government priorities for the coming session. In the meantime, here are the key takeaways from Mr. Breau’s analysis:
AT A GLANCE
- Chrystia Freeland (University—Rosedale, ON) stays on as Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance.
- Economist Jean-Yves Duclos (Quebec, QC) moves from Treasury Board to Health.
- Dr. Carolyn Bennett (Toronto-St. Paul’s, ON) moves from Crown-Indigenous Relations to a new junior Health portfolio, Mental Health and Addictions. She was previously Minister of State for Public Health in the Paul Martin government, from 2003 – 2006, and is a physician.
- Kamal Khera (Brampton West, ON) becomes Minister of Seniors. She’s a registered nurse who returned to practice part-time during the pandemic.
- Patty Hajdu (Thunder Bay—Superior North, ON) moves from Health to Indigenous Services, which is responsible for delivering the Non-Insured Health Benefits, providing dental and other health coverage for eligible First Nations and Inuit.
- Marc Miller (Ville-Marie—Le Sud-Ouest—Île des Sœurs, QC) moves from Indigenous Services to Crown-Indigenous Relations.
- Filomena Tassi (Hamilton West—Ancaster—Dundas, ON) moves from Labour to Public Services and Procurement, replacing Anita Anand, now at National Defence.
- Marie-Claude Bibeau (Compton—Stanstead, QC) stays at Agriculture and Agri-Food, a key department on sugar reduction and healthy eating initiatives.
WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP
- Committed to a gender-balanced cabinet since 2015, the Prime Minister had to add four new female ministers to achieve parity due to retirements and election losses. He did just this, with 6 of the 9 new additions to cabinet being women.
- In addition to Chrystia Freeland at Finance, Mélanie Joly (Ahuntsic-Cartierville, QC) was named Minister of Foreign Affairs and Anita Anand (Oakville, ON) was named Minister of National Defence. These three roles are traditionally seen as among the most senior in cabinet. Several other women received notable promotions (Tassi, Murray, Gould, Fortier.)
- Gender parity and the promotion of women in leadership positions remains a key priority and frame of reference for the Prime Minister and his senior leadership team, especially as they start to focus on legacy-building over the course of his core mandate.
PRIORITY ON HEALTH
- Former economist Jean-Yves Duclos comes to the health care portfolio having spent 4 years at Families, Children, and Social Development, designing the Canada Child Benefit and launching national strategies on housing and early learning and childcare. He’s spent the past two years as President of the Treasury Board, a central agency overseeing internal government operations and reviewing in detail all government spending plans.
- Duclos is one of the government’s more capable ministers on complicated files and is a strong communicator in both official languages. Two of his former Chiefs of Staff now hold senior positions in the Prime Minister’s Office.
- The appointment of a details-focused Minister of Health is a clear signal that the government expects to spend a considerable amount of time in the coming months negotiating with provinces on federal health care transfers.
- Québec has been leading the charge in advocating for significant increases, in addition to dedicated transfers for pharmacare and mental health. This will be a highly political and highly public negotiation process.
- Based on the Liberal campaign’s response to CDA’s election advocacy, there is a willingness on the part of the Federal Government to enable part of these health transfers to go towards provincial dental programs, but success will depend on this being a priority for provincial governments as well.
- Duclos will have a wealth of colleagues with health experience around the cabinet table: two former Health Ministers (Hajdu and Petitpas Taylor), two physicians (Jaczek as well as Bennett, the new Minister of Mental Health and Addictions), and a registered nurse (Minister of Seniors, Kamal Khera).
- Khera has long been trusted and well-connected in Liberal circles. She should be expected to hit the ground running on the government’s commitments to invest heavily in seniors care and introduce new national standards for long-term care facilities.
ENVIRONMENT AND THE ECONOMY
- One of the headline moves was former climate activist Steven Guilbeault being named as the new Minister of the Environment and Climate Change, with former Minister Jonathan Wilkinson shuffled into the Natural Resources portfolio. As these moves signal a desire by the government to do more, faster, it will be important to continue to monitor how new environmental initiatives impact dentistry, particularly with respect to the sustainability and environmental impact of dental materials.
- Most of the economic ministries did not change hands, with Freeland remaining at Finance, Champagne at Industry, Ng at Small Business, and Qualtrough at Employment and Workforce Development. This stability bodes well for continued management of the economic impacts of the pandemic, and hopefully means there will be progress on key small business tax commitments made in Budget 2021 and in the Liberal’s electoral platform.
- This shuffle also reaffirmed the government’s commitment to make progress on Indigenous issues and reconciliation, with Marc Miller – a close friend of the Prime Minister and a strong performer on this file – promoted from Indigenous Services to Crown-Indigenous Relation, and Patty Hajdu, who served as Health Minister throughout the height of the pandemic, replacing him.
- With a government willing to commit significant funding to address Indigenous priorities, and a former Minister of Health now managing Indigenous Services, this presents a window of opportunity to address Indigenous oral health issues.
- Minister Hajdu will likely also continue to work on implementing “Joyce’s Principle,” which seeks to address racism and discrimination faced by Indigenous people when accessing health care services.
Canadian Dental Association - Advocacy Activities
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Until next time!
CDA Oasis Team