Premier David Alward promoted four backbench MLAs on Wednesday in a major overhaul of the provincial cabinet.

Alward kept Blaine Higgs in the key position of finance minister. But the premier made several significant moves to his cabinet.

si-nb-alward-cabinet-220

Premier David Alward announced major changes to his cabinet on Wednesday. (CBC)

Madeleine Dubé is moving from the Department of Health to the Department of Social Development. Dubé oversaw that department in the Bernard Lord cabinet when it was known as the Department of Family and Community Services.

Sue Stultz is moving from that portfolio to lead the Department of Government Services.

Craig Leonard is leaving the recently-created Department of Government Services to lead the Department of Energy and Mines. Leonard has avoided dealing with the controversial shale gas issue after his sister became a lobbyist for the Canadian Association of Petroleum Producers.

Leonard had been Alward's first energy minister but was sent to Government Services earlier this year.

Alward promoted four MLAs from the backbench. Newly-elected Rothesay MLA Hugh John (Ted) Flemming III is the province's new health minister, a hot-button department following MLA Jim Parrott's expulsion from caucus last week.

Flemming was recruited to run by Finance Minister Blaine Higgs and promised to be just like him when he ran for office last summer.  

"He and I are very like-minded, he encouraged me to run and he said, 'We need more people like you,'" said Flemming. 

Alward said Flemming is qualified for the job.

"He's a lawyer, he was a QC (Queen's Counsel), so in terms of the level of capacity certainly is strong," said Alward.  

Saint-John Lancaster MLA Dorothy Shephard is the new minister of healthy and inclusive communities, Fredericton-area MLA Troy Lifford is the new human resources minister and Grand Falls MLA Danny Soucy is the new post-secondary education minister.

"The provinces that are succeeding across the country have one thing in common: a renewed focus on natural resources," Alward said in a statement.

"These changes put in place the leadership required to rebuild New Brunswick’s forestry sector, while at the same time strengthening our efforts to groom and grow our energy and mining sectors for the future."

The new cabinet:

  • Paul Robichaud: Economic Development
  • Marie-Claude Blais, Attorney General and Justice
  • Mike Olscamp: Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries
  • Jody Carr: Education and Early Childhood Development
  • Craig Leonard: Energy and Mines
  • Bruce Fitch: Environment and Local Government
  • Blaine Higgs: Finance
  • Sue Stultz: Government Services
  • Hugh John (Ted) Flemming III: Health
  • Dorothy Shephard: Healthy and Inclusive Communities
  • Troy Lifford: Human Resources
  • Bruce Northrup: Natural Resources
  • Danny Soucy: Post-Secondary Education, Training and Labour
  • Robert Trevors: Public Safety
  • Madeleine Dubé: Social Development
  • Trevor Holder: Tourism, Heritage and Culture
  • Claude Williams: Transportation and Infrastructure

The only minister to be removed from cabinet was Martine Coulombe. She had served as the post-secondary education minister.

All changes will come into effect on Oct. 9.

Alward expanded his cabinet by two positions and now has 17 ministers. A point that NDP Leader Dominic Cardy immediately seized upon.

"I find it inexplicable that you can have a government that's been repeatedly banging the drum of, 'What we want versus what we need,' and apparently what we need is more cabinet ministers," he said.

Alward's government has the lowest satisfaction rating in the polls after two years, among the last three New Brunswick governments, at just 47 per cent.

Changes to senior civil servants

Alward's reshaping of the provincial government did not end with a cabinet shuffle. The premier made several changes to the civil service on Wednesday.

si-nb-flemming-higgs-220

Hugh John (Ted) Flemming III, left, is the province's new health minister. (CBC)

The biggest change was at the Department of Post-Secondary Training and Labour, where he appointed Tom Mann as the new deputy minister.

Mann left his position as the executive director of the New Brunswick Union in April to become a conciliator with the federal government. Mann had also worked for the New Brunswick Nurses Union.

"Tom’s background and experience will serve New Brunswickers as a tremendous asset in advancing our government’s renewed focus on developing a strong labour force and strengthening our economy," Alward said in a statement.

"He will also play a key role extending our new pension model to a number of private and public sector plans, helping achieve our goal of making pensions in New Brunswick more secure, sustainable and affordable."