OTTAWA, Ont. — Justin Trudeau’s Cabinet has a slightly different look after the prime minister shuffled a pair of ministers at a Wednesday morning ceremony.
Helena Jaczek, a medical doctor and rookie federal minister who served four years in Ontario’s provincial Cabinet, was promoted to the thorny procurement portfolio.
Filomena Tassi, an MP from Hamilton, Ont., is on her way out of procurement.
Tassi’s husband, Jim Oliver, suffered two strokes last year. “As anyone whose family has had a similar experience will know, post-stroke care can be complex and filled with uncertainty,” Tassi said in a statement.
Tassi requested a lighter workload, and will take on Jaczek’s former gig that oversaw southern Ontario’s regional economic development agency.
Jaczek will oversee a department that oversees billions of dollars in government purchases, everything from stationery to life-saving vaccines.
It’s a low-profile job — until something goes wrong with a high-profile purchase. Former minister Anita Anand, who’s now in the defense portfolio, fought unflattering headlines during the global scramble for Covid-19 vaccines in early 2021.
As Americans and Europeans were hoarding doses manufactured on their own soil, Canada’s vaccination rate lagged. By the summer, Canadians nearly led the world in the number of shots administered — and Anand was on the receiving end of complaints that it was the Canadians doing all the hoarding.
For her efforts, Anand was promoted to defense minister after the 2021 election.
Procurement is a promotion for Jaczek, whose previous role allowed her to get her feet wet in the federal Cabinet. But she’s no stranger to the Cabinet environment. Jaczek was Ontario’s minister of community and social services from 2014 to early 2018.
In January of that year, Jaczek was promoted to the massive health and long-term care portfolio. She was named Cabinet chair at the same time.
When Kathleen Wynne’s Liberal government was swept out of power by Doug Ford’s Progressive Conservatives that June, Jaczek lost her seat.
She turned her attention to Ottawa. In 2019, Jaczek won a seat in the suburban Toronto riding of Markham–Stouffville — toppling a Conservative challenger and former Liberal Cabinet minister Jane Philpott, who lost her re-election bid as an independent candidate.
Before Wednesday’s mini-shuffle, Jaczek also vice-chaired the powerful Treasury Board — a Cabinet committee that oversees the government’s financial management and spending, and is the formal employer of hundreds of thousands of public servants.
Jaczek was removed from that role after the shuffle. She’ll now replace Tassi as vice-chair of the Covid response committee.
Diane Lebouthillier, the national revenue minister who is the only member of Cabinet not to be shuffled since 2015, takes over as Treasury Board vice-chair.