Doug Ford names 43 paid parliamentary assistants, up 65% from 2018

WATCH ABOVE: Ontario Premier Doug Ford held his first cabinet meeting at Queen’s Park as the new interim leader of the NDP held his first news conference. Meanwhile, the Ontario Liberals are soul-searching, as they push back a potential leadership contest.

Days after unveiling his new 30-person cabinet, Ontario Premier Doug Ford has confirmed a further 43 MPPs will be appointed to paid roles as parliamentary assistants.

The new appointments mean 73 of Ford’s 83-person PC Party caucus have been given a specific role within government.

According to the province, parliamentary assistants help ministers with “legislative and committee matters, including special projects and assignments that require dedicated leadership.”

The role comes with an extra annual payment of just over $16,000.

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The number of parliamentary assistants has increased significantly under Ford’s PC government.

On June 29, 2018, Ford unveiled 26 parliamentary assistants to work with his first government. The next year, in June 2019, the number of assistants grew again — this time to 31.

Now, Ford has confirmed 43 assistants to shape his government’s legislative agenda.

The number of parliamentary assistants appointed between Ford’s first cabinet and his most recent has increased by around 65 per cent.

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The Ontario NDP accused the premier of “packing dozens of MPPs onto his gravy train.”

In an email to Global News, a spokesperson for the Premier’s office justified the number of appointments.

“Our government has an ambitious plan to build Ontario and we’re empowering members of our team from all walks of life and every corner of the province to help deliver on our promise to get it done,” said Ivana Yelich, executive director of media relations for the Office of the Premier.

The newly unveiled crop of parliamentary assistants includes up to two parliamentary assistants for cabinet ministers in some portfolios.

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Sylvia Jones, the recently promoted Minister of Health, will have two parliamentary assistants, as will the Minister of Finance and Minister of Education.

When she was an opposition MPP, Jones criticized former Liberal MPP Liz Sandals after she was appointed as a parliamentary assistant for infrastructure.

“A role as Parliamentary Assistant (P.A.) comes with a $16,000 raise, yet the government has not released what her responsibilities include,” Jones said in 2018. “No mandate letter has yet been published.”

Jones did not respond to a request for comment in time of publication.

There are also two assistants for the Ministry of Tourism, Culture and Sport, along with the Ministry of Treasury.

Ontario Liberal Interim Leader John Fraser told Global News it was common for some portfolios, including health and education, to have two assistants. But he said that without public mandate letters, it is impossible to understand why the Ford government needed 43 parliamentary assistants.

The province has refused to disclose mandate letters and fought against publishing them all the way to the Supreme Court.

“The number is higher than usual, there’s no question about that,” Fraser said. “When you appoint 43, it just stands out — you’re doing more than normal, but what exactly are people doing?”

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In total, 14 portfolios have been given two assistants.

“It’s shocking that Doug Ford is inviting MPPs to climb aboard his gravy train two at a time — doubling up on parliamentary assistants on several portfolios and giving dozens of Conservatives a big pay bump,” said Peter Tabuns, interim leader of the Ontario NDP.

The full list of appointments is below:

  • Lorne Coe, Parliamentary Assistant to the Premier
  • Andrea Khanjin, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Intergovernmental Affairs
  • Robin Martin, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health
  • Dawn Gallagher Murphy, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Health
  • Stephen Crawford, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance
  • Rick Byers, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Finance
  • Mike Harris, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Legislative Affairs
  • John Jordan, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Long-Term Care
  • Daisy Wai, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister for Seniors and Accessibility
  • Kevin Holland, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing
  • Brian Saunderson, Parliamentary Assistant to the Attorney General
  • Natalie Pierre, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Colleges and Universities
  • Andrew Dowie, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
  • Effie J. Triantafilopoulos, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Economic Development, Job Creation and Trade
  • Billy Pang, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism
  • Graham McGregor, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism
  • Logan Kanapathi, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services
  • Nolan Quinn, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services
  • Sam Oosterhoff, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Red Tape Reduction
  • Christine Hogarth, Parliamentary Assistant to the Solicitor General
  • Bob Bailey, Parliamentary Assistant to the Solicitor General
  • Patrice Barnes, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education
  • Matthew Rae, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Education
  • Laura Smith, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport
  • Sheref Sabawy, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport
  • Deepak Anand, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development, with responsibility for immigration
  • David Smith (Scarborough Centre), Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development
  • Hardeep Singh Grewal, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Transportation
  • Natalia Kusendova, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Francophone Affairs
  • John Yakabuski, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of the Environment, Conservation and Parks
  • Ric Bresee, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Natural Resources and Forestry
  • Anthony Leardi, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Mines
  • Brian Riddell, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery
  • Vincent Ke, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Public and Business Service Delivery
  • Dave Smith (Peterborough—Kawartha), Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Northern Development and Minister of Indigenous Affairs
  • Rudy Cuzzetto, Parliamentary Assistant to the President of the Treasury Board
  • Todd J. McCarthy, Parliamentary Assistant to the President of the Treasury Board
  • Stéphane Sarrazin, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Energy
  • Jess Dixon, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Energy
  • Amarjot Sandhu, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Infrastructure
  • Vijay Thanigasalam, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Infrastructure
  • Rob Flack, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs
  • Trevor Jones, Parliamentary Assistant to the Minister of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs

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