As Trudeau Shakes Up Cabinet, O’Regan Takes on the Newly Combined Labour and Seniors Role
Seamus O'Regan arrives for a cabinet swearing-in ceremony at Rideau Hall, Ottawa, July 26, 2023. Photo: Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press
In a move that has everyone speculating that the Liberal government is preparing to call an election, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced a huge cabinet shuffle, including 23 changes and seven new faces, plus a new Seniors Minister.
Among the big names dropped from cabinet were Justice Minister David Lametti, replaced by Arif Virani; public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino, replaced by Dominic LeBlanc; and Health Minister Jean-Yves Duclos, replaced by Mark Holland.
Kamal Khera is also out as seniors minister, her role going to longtime Trudeau ally and current labour minister, Seamus O’Regan. O’Regan will combine the two portfolios, becoming the minister of labour and seniors. Khera was not booted from cabinet altogether, her new role is minster of diversity, inclusion and persons with disabilities.
The shakeup in the seniors ministry was welcomed by Bill VanGorder, chief policy officer for CARP [a ZoomerMedia partner]. VanGorder notes that O’Regan has “been supportive of CARP in the past,” especially in his dealings with the organization’s chapter in Newfoundland and Labrador, his home province.
VanGorder also hopes that because the new minister will manage to bring some of his star power to the seniors role, which has been mostly off the radar since Filomena Tassi left the role in November. 2019. Deb Schulte replaced Tassi, but was replaced when she lost her seat in the 2021 election.
O’Regan enjoys a higher profile in this government than Khera, not only for being the former co-host of Canada AM but especially for his role in settling the B.C. port-workers strike. “Because he’s higher up in the pecking order, he should be able to shine a brighter light on seniors issues,” says VanGorder.
Khera, who served in the role of seniors minister for less than three years, couldn’t move the needle on seniors issues because she “failed to make her voice heard at the table,” suggests VanGorder. CARP hopes that O’Regan will use his influence to make progress on issues like inflation and retirement insecurity.
Since O’Regan is now responsible for two portfolios, there is some concern that the labour file, which is complex and time consuming, might distract the new minister from paying attention to the seniors file. However, VanGorder is confident O’Regan will use his past experience with CARP and successfully keep seniors issues in the forefront.