Has your life become 63 per cent more complicated than it was four years ago?
According to Ontario Premier Doug Ford, his life sure has.
Late last month, Ford announced his picks for his new cabinet and parliamentary secretaries as he embarks on his second term as premier.
Ford announced the largest roster of overpaid politicians in the province’s history. No less than 73 of 83 Progressive Conservative MPPs received special titles and pay raises.
Four years ago, Ford appointed a cabinet of 20. Last month, his cabinet size grew to 30.
When MPPs join the cabinet, they get a 42 per cent pay hike. With 10 more ministers than he had in 2018, Ford is forcing taxpayers to spend an extra $489,000.
And that doesn’t even include extra staffing costs. Each minister needs a chief of staff, a communications team and policy advisors. All of these salaries will be covered by hard-working taxpayers.
Are all 30 positions needed?
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Certainly not. Ford has created cabinet ministries that could easily be covered under other larger ministries.
Does Ontario need an associate minister of transportation when the province already has a minister of transportation?
Does Ontario need an associate minister of housing when the province already has a minister of municipal affairs and housing?
With a cabinet of 30, Ford has officially beaten out former premier Kathleen Wynne in choosing the largest and most expensive cabinet in the province’s history.
Ford’s decision to appoint a record-shattering 43 parliamentary secretaries also reeks of political opportunism.
When Wynne announced a roster of 26 cabinet ministers and 23 parliamentary secretaries ahead of the 2014 election, Vic Fedeli, now the chair of Ford’s cabinet, attacked Wynne for bloating the size of government.
“This is a government that has continued to bulk up their cabinet and bulk up their parliamentary assistants so that virtually every member of the government earns a tremendous amount of pay more than any other sitting MPP,” said Fedeli in 2014.
Fedeli was right in 2014, and the government he serves today is wrong now. By appointing almost double the number of parliamentary secretaries as Wynne did eight years ago, Ford is costing taxpayers an extra $280,000 in higher-paying salaries.
Ford has also set a new precedent by appointing multiple MPPs to the same job.
For some reason, after decades of having one parliamentary secretary for each ministry, no fewer than 14 ministers were given two parliamentary secretaries.
Ford rode into office on a wave of taxpayer anger, with Ontarians fed up with the Wynne government for wasting taxpayer dollars and poorly managing the province’s finances.
Last month’s cabinet and parliamentary secretary appointment announcements show that the Ford government is becoming the very thing it pledged not to be.
With bloated politician payrolls, massive deficits and record increases in government spending, the Ford government is embracing what it once criticized the Wynne government for doing.
If Ford doesn’t want to face the same fate Wynne did at the end of her second term, he would be wise to return to the principles he first ran on in 2018.
It’s time to clean up Queen’s Park. That means fewer politicians, balanced budgets, lower taxes and prudent spending.
Ford is failing on these fronts. It’s time for him to get to work to turn his ship of state around.
Jay Goldberg is the Ontario & Interim Atlantic Director for the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.
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