Cost of Doug Ford’s cabinet, parliamentary assistants exceeds $10M

Click to play video: 'Cost of premier’s office surges under Doug Ford'
Cost of premier’s office surges under Doug Ford
RELATED: Cost of premier's office surges under Doug Ford – Apr 2, 2024

The cost of Ontario Premier Doug Ford’s inner circle has shot up dramatically after the latest reshuffle, as the number of cabinet ministers — and their cost to the taxpayer — grows compared to when the Progressive Conservatives first took office in 2018.

Overall, Ford’s most recent cabinet has increased by 72 per cent compared to his first.

Shortly after the Ontario Legislature ended for an extended summer break on Thursday, Ford unveiled a mid-sized cabinet shuffle at Queen’s Park, which resulted in the largest cabinet in Ontario’s history.

While the shuffle meant some ministers swapping portfolios and fresh faces being added to the cabinet table in newly-created positions, Ford didn’t remove a single minister during reorganization.

The result: 36 ministers and associate ministers earning taxpayer-funded salary top-ups, up from 20 in 2018. The government has also awarded 32 PC MPPs with parliamentary assistant positions, an increase from 28 in 2018.

Story continues below advertisement

While each MPP receives a base salary of $116,550, additional responsibilities come with more money. The top-ups range from $16,000 to $50,000 depending on the position:

  • Premier: $208,974.00
  • Cabinet Minister: $165,850.65
  • Associate Minister: $138,927.60
  • Parliamentary assistant: $133,216.65
Click to play video: 'Ontario Premier Doug Ford announces new education minister, cabinet reshuffle'
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announces new education minister, cabinet reshuffle

Including base salaries, the current cost of Premier Ford’s cabinet now amounts to $5.7 million compared to $3.3 million when his party first rose to power in 2018. Adding parliamentary assistants to that total comes to $6.9 million 2018 and $10 million in 2024 — a cost increase of 45 per cent.

Breaking news from Canada and around the world sent to your email, as it happens.

Jay Goldberg with the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said Ford is now in charge of a “big-spending, out-of-touch government” that’s out of sync with his promises in 2018.

“One of the things Doug Ford ran on in 2018 was shrinking the size of government to show respect for taxpayers,” Goldberg told Global News.

Story continues below advertisement
“[Taxpayers] should look at this and say the gravy train at Queen’s Park is picking up more cargo, and that’s consistently what we’re seeing.”

The Ford government has increasingly faced scrutiny over its taxpayer-funded spending in recent months.

Annual salary reports released earlier in the year showed Ford also presides over the most expensive premier’s office in Ontario’s history.

During 2019, the premier’s first full year in office, 20 staff in his office were included on the sunshine list — a public database that includes every taxpayer-funded employee earning more than $100,000 per year. In total, those earning more than $100,000 were paid $2.9 million that year.

By 2023, the number of premier’s office employees on the sunshine list more than doubled to 48, with a combined compensation of $6.9 million. The figure eclipses both what Ford spent on his office when he was first elected and the cost of former Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne.

Ontario NDP MPP Jeff Burch said the new, larger cabinet — combined with an extended summer break — suggests the government is out of touch with the struggles of regular voters.

“He’s giving more of his MPPs a raise and he’s created the biggest cabinet in Ontario history while people are struggling to pay their bills, find a home, find a family doctor,” he told Global News.

Story continues below advertisement

“I think there’s a basic issue of fairness here and people are going to look at this and realize that a government that cared about people would fix their problems, not give their MPPs and a raise and run off on holiday.”

Meanwhile, the government has been criticized for the spending figures outlined in the latest provincial budget tabled by Ford’s finance minister at Queen’s Park.

Ontario’s $9.8-billion deficit in 2023 is larger than Wynne’s $7.8 billion in her final budget in 2018, while Ford has added $86.7 billion to the provincial debt in five years, compared with the $61.4 billion the Liberals added to the debt over a similar five-year timespan.

“Since 2018, Ontario has increased its revenues by over $50 billion and added more than 750,000 jobs to our economy,” a spokesperson for the premier’s office said in response to questions about the size and cost of cabinet.

“This is a result of our ambitious plan to build highways, public transit, hospitals, and homes, keep costs down for families and businesses and train workers for rewarding careers in the skilled trades.”

Opposition parties have referred to a gravy train running from the premier’s office, with Ontario Liberal MPP John Fraser handing Ford a packet of gravy during question period one day to illustrate his point.

A government building was also briefly evacuated and shut down in April after powdered gravy sent to the premier was flagged as a potential security issue.


Sponsored content