Mike de Jong is B.C.’s new Minister of Health.
The new title is added to a number of cabinet posts that the Abbotsford West MLA has held during his 17-year political career, including the attorney general, solicitor general, labour, forests and Aboriginal relations and reconciliation.
“It’s always an honour to be in cabinet,” said de Jong, adding it is “obviously a central ministry to the services government provides.”
Premier Christy Clark was sworn in as B.C.’s 35th premier at Government House in Victoria on Monday at 1 p.m., and also introduced her new cabinet. She trimmed the cabinet from 23 ministers down to 17 plus the premier.
She appointed de Jong and two of her other rivals for the Liberal leadership contest to cabinet, but left out Moira Stilwell. Kevin Falcon, who finished second in party voting, is the new deputy premier and finance minister. George Abbott returns to the education portfolio.
Notably left out was Colin Hansen, the finance minister who announced the HST for the government of outgoing premier Gordon Campbell.
De Jong said he was pleased to see a smaller cabinet, and fewer ministries tell taxpayers that government is going to do its work in a cost-effective manner. A minister makes approximately $50,000 more than the backbench MLA’s $98,000 salary.
De Jong will spend the coming weeks meeting with people in the health care industry, including former Matsqui Social Credit MLA Peter Dueck, who was also a health minister in the 1980s.
“He set a very high standard,” said de Jong. “It is always wise to seek advice from people who have gone before you.”
Abbotsford-Mission MLA Randy Hawes was named parliamentary secretary for Natural Resource Operations Review to the Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations. He was formerly the Minister of State for Mining. Hawes was also assigned to the Treasury Board, and the cabinet committee on the Environment and Land Use.
Abbotsford South MLA John van Dongen was assigned to the committee on Jobs and Economic Growth.
Our new cabinet will reflect the priorities of British Columbians and put families at the centre of all our decision-making,” said Premier Clark. “Together, we will focus on creating jobs and building a strong economy because that is the single most important thing we can do to support families and ensure we can invest in critical services like health and education. This is a team that will work hard to ensure that prosperity and opportunity extend to every region of our province.”
The new cabinet includes:
• Deputy Premier and Minister of Finance Kevin Falcon
• Minister of Aboriginal Relations and Reconciliation Mary Polak
• Minister of Advanced Education Naomi Yamamoto
• Minister of Agriculture Don McRae
• Attorney General Barry Penner
• Minister of Children and Family Development Mary McNeil
• Minister of Community, Sport and Cultural Development Ida Chong
• Minister of Education George Abbott
• Minister of Energy and Mines (minister responsible for housing) Rich Coleman
• Minister of Environment Terry Lake
• Minister of Forests, Lands and Natural Resource Operations Steve Thomson
• Minister of Health Michael de Jong
• Minister of Jobs, Tourism and Innovation Pat Bell
• Minister of Labour, Citizens’ Services and Open Government Stephanie Cadieux
• Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General Shirley Bond
• Minister of Social Development (minister responsible for multiculturalism) Harry Bloy
• Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure Blair Lekstrom