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Deb Matthews defends Ontario Liberal cabinet shuffle

Ontario Deputy Premier Deb Matthews said a major Liberal cabinet shuffle is all about getting things done – not hitting the panic button.

Liberals unveiled 30-member cabinet at Queen’s Park on Monday

Deb Matthews said the Liberal government's cabinet shuffle will help it accomplish its policy goals before the next election. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)

Ontario Deputy Premier Deb Matthews said a major Liberal cabinet shuffle is all about getting things done – not hitting the panic button.

The Liberals unveiled the new 30-member cabinet at Queen's Park on Monday. The larger cabinet adds new positions in what the government considers key areas, while increasing the number of women in Kathleen Wynne's inner circle.

And with a provincial election two years away, several new cabinet ministers represent swing ridings.

But Matthews said the government's moves are being driven by its plans for infrastructure development, dealing with climate change and modernizing the government.

By the time the election rolls around, Matthews told CBC Radio's Metro Morning: "People will judge us by our record."

"We've got a really clear plan," she said.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne, centre left, unveiled her new cabinet on Monday at Queen's Park. (Peter Power/The Canadian Press)
Matthews admitted the last several years have been challenging for the government, particularly when it comes to negotiating with teachers and doctors while aiming to balance the budget.

"Politics is a tough game," Matthews said.

Former education minister Liz Sandals was one of the cabinet ministers moved to a new portfolio (treasury board) on Monday, but Matthews said that had nothing to do with the tough negotiations with teachers. Eric Hoskins remains in his post as health minister.

Matthews, who is also now the Minister Responsible for Digital Government, said it's all part of a "refresh."

Internal polling tells the Liberals they have work to do, she said, but added that she believes the public supports what it's doing. Among her new priorities is making it easy to deal with the government – think renewing your driver's licence – online.

The veteran politician also took aim at anyone suggesting the cabinet moves were made to meet a quota.

"I think they're just wrong," she said, noting she believes government is at its best when it's diverse. 

With files from Metro Morning