Premier Doug Ford increases Ontario’s political payroll

Has your life become 63% more complicated than four years ago?

According to Premier Doug Ford, his life has certainly changed.

Late last month, Ford announced his choices for his new cabinet and parliamentary secretaries as he begins his second term as prime minister.

Ford has announced the largest list of overpaid politicians in provincial history. No less than 73 of the 83 Progressive Conservative MPs received special titles and salary increases.

Four years ago, Ford appointed a 20-person cabinet. Last month, the size of his cabinet grew to 30.

When MPs join cabinet, they get a 42% pay raise. With 10 more ministers than it had in 2018, Ford is forcing taxpayers to spend $489,000 more. And that doesn’t even include the additional personnel costs. Every minister needs a chef de cabinet, a communications team and political advisers. All of these salaries will be covered by hard-working taxpayers.

Are all 30 posts necessary?

Certainly not. Ford created departments that could easily be covered by other larger departments.

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 30-person cabinet, Ford officially edged 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 43 parliamentary secretaries also smacks of political expediency.

When Wynne announced a slate of 26 ministers and 23 parliamentary secretaries ahead of the 2014 election, Vic Fedeli, now Ford’s cabinet chairman, attacked Wynne for inflating the size of government.

“This is a government that has continued to strengthen its cabinet and bolster its parliamentary aides so that virtually every member of government earns a whopping salary more than any other sitting MP,” Fedeli said in 2014.

Fedeli was right in 2014 and the government he serves today is wrong now. By appointing nearly double the number of parliamentary secretaries as Wynne did eight years ago, Ford is costing taxpayers an additional $280,000 in higher paying salaries.

Ford also set a new precedent by appointing multiple MPs to the same post.

For some reason, after decades of having a parliamentary secretary for every department, no less than 14 ministers have been given two parliamentary secretaries.

Ford came to power on a wave of taxpayer anger, Ontarians were fed up with the Wynne government for wasting taxpayers’ money and mismanaging the province’s finances.

Last month’s cabinet and parliamentary secretary appointment announcements show that the Ford government is becoming exactly what it promised not to be.

With a bloated payroll of politicians, massive deficits and record increases in government spending, the Ford government is embracing what it once criticized the Wynne government.

If Ford doesn’t want to face the same fate as Wynne at the end of his second term, it would be wise to return to the principles he first ran on in 2018.

It’s time to clean up Queen’s Park. It means fewer politicians, balanced budgets, lower taxes and careful spending.

Ford fails on these fronts. It’s time for him to get to work righting his ship of state.

Jay Goldberg is the Ontario Director of the Canadian Taxpayers Federation.

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