New faces join B.C.'s new cabinet, while stalwarts stay on in key roles

Premier John Horgan has revealed a new slate of cabinet ministers who will lead B.C. through the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as the economic fallout.

The cabinet includes some new faces at the helm of major portfolios like finance and education, while some NDP party stalwarts will remain in charge of ministries like health.

"The pandemic has turned the lives of British Columbians upside down," Horgan said in a news release after Thursday's swearing-in ceremony.

"We have come a long way together, but we have much further to go. This skilled, diverse team is ready to continue our fight against COVID-19 and build an economic recovery that includes everyone."

The NDP are returning to power this fall with an unprecedented majority for the party, holding 57 of 87 seats in the legislature. The new executive council is gender-balanced, with an equal number of men and women in cabinet positions, and includes 20 ministers and four ministers of state.

Perhaps the least surprising news out of Thursday's cabinet announcement was that Adrian Dix will stay on as health minister, after helping guide B.C.'s pandemic response from the beginning.

Mike Farnworth is still public safety minister and solicitor general, Bruce Ralston remains as energy minister, and George Heyman stays on as minister of the environment.

Selina Robinson is the new finance minister

David Eby will remain as attorney general, but he will also take on a new portfolio as housing minister, which was formerly paired with municipal affairs under Selina Robinson's watch.

Robinson has moved on from that role in the new government, taking on the high-profile finance posting, as the province struggles to keep an even fiscal keel during the turmoil caused by the pandemic. She steps in where Carole James left off before retiring from politics this year.

"I have tremendous trust in her capacity," Horgan told reporters after the new cabinet was sworn in.

Mike McArthur/CBC
Mike McArthur/CBC

Although James is no longer serving in politics, the premier revealed she will continue to serve as a personal adviser to him for a fee of $1 a year.

"I offered her five bucks for a five-year contract; she said 'I'll take it a year at a time,'" Horgan joked.

Ravi Kahlon will also join B.C.'s effort to rebuild from the pandemic as the new minister for jobs and innovation, with an additional responsibility for economic recovery folded into his portfolio.

"We have had a cross-government approach to recovery since the beginning, but Ravi will be the point person," Horgan said.

Rob Fleming is out as education minister, heading up transportation and infrastructure instead. Newbie Jennifer Whiteside is his replacement in the education portfolio.

Horgan denied that Fleming was shifted out of education in response to conflict over reopening schools during the pandemic.

"[I'm] very proud of the work he's done, but I wanted to move him on to other things," Horgan said.

Meanwhile, Sheila Malcolmson is taking on the tricky portfolio of mental health and addictions, following Judy Darcy's exit from provincial politics. Malcolmson enters her new role as drug overdoses are killing five British Columbians every day.

Some of the other new faces include former Tofino mayor Josie Osborne, who becomes the minister of municipal affairs, and Mitzi Dean as minister of children and family development.

Full cabinet for the new NDP government

Premier: John Horgan

Attorney General (and Minister Responsible For Housing): David Eby

  • Parliamentary Secretary - Anti-Racism Initiatives: Rachna Singh

Advanced Education and Skills Training: Anne Kang

  • Parliamentary Secretary - Skills Training: Andrew Mercier

Agriculture, Food and Fisheries: Lana Popham

  • Parliamentary Secretary - Fisheries and Aquaculture: Fin Donnelly

Citizens' Services: Lisa Beare

Children and Family Development: Mitzi Dean

  • Minister of State for Child Care: Katrina Chen

Education: Jennifer Whiteside

Energy, Mines and Low Carbon Innovation (and Minister Responsible for The Consular Corps of British Columbia): Bruce Ralston

Environment and Climate Change Strategy (and Minister Responsible for Translink): George Heyman

  • Parliamentary Secretary - Environment: Kelly Greene

Finance: Selina Robinson

  • Parliamentary Secretary - Gender Equity: Grace Lore

Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development: Katrine Conroy

  • Minister of State for Lands, Natural Resource Operations: Nathan Cullen

  • Parliamentary Secretary - Rural Development: Roly Russell

Health (and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs): Adrian Dix

  • Parliamentary Secretary - Seniors Services & Long Term Care: Mable Elmore

Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation: Murray Rankin

Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation: Ravi Kahlon

  • Minister of State for Trade: George Chow

  • Parliamentary Secretary - Technology & Innovation: Brenda Bailey

Labour: Harry Bains

  • Parliamentary Secretary - New Economy: Adam Walker

Mental Health and Addictions: Sheila Malcolmson

Municipal Affairs: Josie Osborne

Public Safety and Solicitor General: Mike Farnworth

  • Parliamentary Secretary - Emergency Preparedness: Jennifer Rice

Social Development and Poverty Reduction: Nicholas Simons

  • Parliamentary Secretary - Community Development & Non-Profits: Niki Sharma

  • Parliamentary Secretary - Accessibility: Dan Coulter

Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport: Melanie Mark

  • Parliamentary Secretary - Arts and Film: Bob D'Eith

Transportation and Infrastructure: Rob Fleming

  • Minister of State for Infrastructure: Bowinn Ma