British Columbia Premier David Eby has unveiled a new-look cabinet that includes eight first-time ministers and removes Selina Robinson from the finance ministry.
Former forests minister Katrine Conroy takes over the finance portfolio, while Robinson moves to post-secondary education and future skills.
Robinson announced just last month that the NDP government had a surplus windfall of $5.7 billion dollars, allowing Eby to spend on his priorities of housing, health care and public safety.
The highest-profile appointment among the crop of newcomers goes to Niki Sharma, who takes over from Eby as attorney general.
Sharma, who was previously Parliamentary secretary for community development and non-profits, had tears in her eyes Wednesday as she received a standing ovation at the Government House ceremony, where the ministers were sworn in by Lt.-Gov. Janet Austin.
“Our cabinet represents the diversity of our province,” said Eby, who took over as premier from John Horgan on Nov. 18. “Together they are a strong team. They are going to take on the big challenges facing our province.”
Eby described Conroy as “rural tough,” and says he chose her for finance because he has worked with her for a decade.
“British Columbians want her on their side,” Eby said of Conroy, who represents Kootenay West in B.C.’s southeast.
He cited her as having a background in agriculture, adding “she’s a hunter and she is tough.”
Eby would not categorize Robinson as having been demoted and said she will have an important role in ensuring institutions prepare students for challenging economic times.
He also said Robinson would use her experience in the business and non-profit sectors to bring success to her new ministry.
Eby said he couldn’t be more excited about getting down to work, and sought to quell suggestions of an early election, ahead of the scheduled vote in October 2024.
“I don’t know how many times I can say it, I am committed to a fixed election date for B.C.,” he said.
Ravi Kahlon, who was co-chair of Eby’s leadership campaign, will take on the new Housing Ministry.
Bowinn Ma will be the minister of emergency management and climate readiness, while Rachna Singh, a former Parliamentary secretary, is elevated to cabinet as the education minister.
The other newcomers include Pam Alexis in agriculture, minister of state for child care Grace Lore, Jobs Minister Brenda Bailey, minister of state for trade Jagrup Brar, minister of state for workforce development Andrew Mercier, and minister of state for infrastructure and transit Dan Coulter.
Eby said his ministers were a strong team ready to take on big challenges.
“They’re accepting this responsibility at a time when we’re facing significant head winds. Global inflation is driving up costs of essentials for families, like groceries. Global economic uncertainty is raising anxiety, health care systems across Canada are under strain, and B.C. is no exception.”
Those keeping their jobs include Adrian Dix in health, George Heyman with environment, Mitzi Dean as the minister of children and family development, Rob Fleming in transport and Harry Bains in Labour.
Deputy premier Mike Farnworth also remains the solicitor general and minister in charge of public safety.
Exiting cabinet are George Chow who held the trade portfolio, Nicholas Simons from social development, and Katrina Chen from child care.
Chen released a statement on Tuesday saying she had asked not to be considered for cabinet as she concentrated on recovering from long-term trauma suffered because of gender-based violence, including as a child.
The full cabinet:
- Agriculture and Food — Pam Alexis (new to cabinet)
- Attorney General — Niki Sharma (new to cabinet)
- Children and Family Development — Mitzi Dean (unchanged)
- Citizens’ Services — Lisa Beare
- Education and Child Care — Rachna Singh (new to cabinet)
- Minister of state for child care — Grace Lore (new to cabinet)
- Emergency Management and Climate Readiness — Bowinn Ma
- Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation — Josie Osborne
- Environment and Climate Change Strategy — George Heyman (unchanged)
- Finance (includes Columbia River Treaty) — Katrine Conroy
- Forests and minister responsible for consular corps. — Bruce Ralston
- Health and minister responsible for Francophone affairs — Adrian Dix (unchanged)
- Housing and government house leader — Ravi Kahlon
- Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation — Murray Rankin
- Jobs, Economic Development and Innovation — Brenda Bailey (new to cabinet)
- Minister of state for trade — Jagrup Brar (new to cabinet)
- Labour — Harry Bains (unchanged)
- Mental Health and Addictions — Jennifer Whiteside
- Municipal Affairs — Anne Kang
- Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills (includes immigration/foreign credentials) — Selina Robinson
- Minister of state for workforce development — Andrew Mercier (new to cabinet)
- Public Safety and Solicitor General (ICBC) — Mike Farnworth (unchanged)
- Social Development and Poverty Reduction — Sheila Malcolmson
- Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport — Lana Popham
- Transportation and Infrastructure (BC Transit and Translink) — Rob Fleming (unchanged)
- Minister of state for infrastructure and transit — Dan Coulter (new to cabinet)
- Water, Land and Resource Stewardship — Nathan Cullen
—Dirk Meissner, The Canadian Press