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B.C.’s new cabinet: Rob Fleming out as education minister, Selina Robinson heads finance

Click to play video 'B.C’s new NDP Cabinet sworn in' B.C’s new NDP Cabinet sworn in
B.C's new NDP Cabinet sworn in – Nov 26, 2020

Premier John Horgan made a big change and replaced Rob Fleming as British Columbia’s education minister during the swearing-in of his new cabinet on Thursday.

Jennifer Whiteside, the newly elected MLA in New Westminster, has been appointed to the red-hot file in his place.

Whiteside, the former business manager for the Hospital Employees’ Union, will be walking into a contentious relationship with the BC Teachers’ Federation around teacher safety at schools in the midst of COVID-19.

Whiteside will also be dealing with questions around whether schools should be closed under a surge in cases in the second wave.

Fleming has been moved to head up transportation, and will be supported by Bowinn Ma, the MLA for North Vancouver-Lonsdale and the new Minister of State for Infrastructure.

Read more: Premier John Horgan grappling with who will be in his cabinet

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Selina Robinson was appointed finance minister, taking over from Carole James who retired after being diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Formerly in charge of housing and municipal affairs, the Coquitlam-Maillardville MLA will be responsible for tabling what’s expected to be one of the toughest government budgets in B.C.’s history next year.

In September, the province said it anticipated the deficit will hit $12.8 billion, and could still balloon due to stimulus spending and other financial losses under the pandemic.

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B.C. solicitor general: Anti-mask scofflaws face multiple fines – Nov 25, 2020

Delta North MLA Ravi Kahlon joined cabinet for the first time in one of the most crucial roles.

His official title is the Minister of Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation, but his primary responsibility will be to communicate the province’s pandemic recovery plan.

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Adrian Dix remains in charge of the health ministry and will continue to lead B.C.’s public-health response alongside provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry.

Read more: Coronavirus: B.C. housing minister says ‘help is on the way’ for renters, homeless

“The pandemic has turned the lives of British Columbians upside down,” Horgan said. “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.”

Following the full cabinet’s swearing in, Horgan will follow the largely virtual swearing-in with his first media availability since B.C. brought in extensive new measures a week ago to combat the second wave of COVID-19, including a requirement that masks be worn in all indoor, public places.

The cabinet is gender balanced, with 12 women and 12 men, and features some new faces from Vancouver Island: Sheila Malcolmson joins as Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, and former Tofino mayor Josie Osborne is the new Minister of Municipal Affairs.

Mike Farnworth continues to lead public safety, and is now also responsible for ICBC. The Crown corporation was formerly under the realm of David Eby, who remains attorney general and takes over housing.

List of cabinet ministers:

Premier: John Horgan

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

Advanced Education and Skills Training: Anne Kang

Agriculture, Food and Fisheries: Lana Popham

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: Bruce Ralston

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

Finance: Selina Robinson

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

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

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

Indigenous Relations and Reconciliation: Murray Rankin

Jobs, Economic Recovery and Innovation: Ravi Kahlon

Minister of State for Trade: George Chow

Labour: Harry Bains

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Mental Health and Addictions: Sheila Malcolmson

Municipal Affairs: Josie Osborne

Public Safety and Solicitor General: Mike Farnworth

Social Development and Poverty Reduction: Nicholas Simons

Tourism, Arts, Culture and Sport: Melanie Mark

Transportation and Infrastructure: Rob Fleming

Minister of State for Infrastructure: Bowinn Ma