Home Government of BC BC Legislative Assembly Eby shuffles two women at the top

Eby shuffles two women at the top

Mitzi Dean is shuffled to Minister of State for Child Care as Grace Lore rises to Minister of Children and Family Development

mitzi dean, grace lore
Mitzi Dean is now Minister of State for Child Care and Grace Lore is Minister of Children and Family Development. [File photos from April 2023 | Island Social Trends]
 GROWING NATURAL FOOD IN URBAN SPACES

Monday January 15, 2024 | VICTORIA, BC [Updated January 16, 2024]

by Mary P Brooke | Island Social Trends


On this bright cold mid-January Monday morning, Premier David Eby announced a mini cabinet shuffle.

mitzi dean, david eby
Minister of Children and Family Development Mitzi Dean (file photo March 2023) | Premier David Eby [file photo June 2023]

Eby has appointed new ministers for child care, children and family development, sustainable forestry, and international credentials.

In particular Grace Lore is now Minister of Children and Family Development and Mitzi Dean is now Minister of State for Child Care (moved from Minister of Children and Family Development).

BC Green response:

“After repeatedly calling for a leadership overhaul at MCFD, we are glad to see the Premier finally take action. The ministry’s chronic accountability issues have long failed children and families,” said BC Green House Leader Adam Olsen today in social media.

adam olsen, bc greens
BC Green MLA Adam Olsen (Saanich North and the Islands) in the Legislative Assembly, April 24, 2023. [Hansard]

Olsen often said last year in the BC Legislative Assembly that “MCFD needs to be fundamentally transformed and rebuilt from the ground up”.

“This change in leadership is the first step to reform,” said Olsen while issuing congratulations to Minister Lore on her new position to try and set a better course around MCFD issues. The BC Greens “hope she’ll be empowered to do the necessary work of shaping a child welfare system that British Columbians can trust”.

New deputy minister:

The former deputy minister of MCFD, Allison Bond, is also out (she will now be the deputy minister in Social Development and Poverty Reduction).

allison bond, deputy minister, mcfd
Allison Bond, Deputy Minister, Social Development and Poverty Reduction, starting Jan 15, 2024. [BC Govt]

The new deputy minister for MCFD will be David Galbraith (previously the DM with Social Development and Poverty Reduction).

david galbraith, deputy minister
David Galbraith, Deputy Minister, Ministry of Children and Family Development starting Jan 15, 2024.

A reluctant decision:

This morning in Vancouver (during a press conference on some changes in family law), Premier Eby said that he and Mitzi Dean reached a “reluctant decision”.

He no doubt realizes how this looks for Dean — a political demotion, but also realized it was a necessary shift for the good of the party and the upcoming election.

There is a goal to ensure that the child welfare system takes care of every child, Eby said in his media availability today.

About the former MCFD Minister, he said that Dean has led responsibly — particularly around the issues of Indigenous children — and has “overseen reduction of kids in care to the lowest level”.


RELATED: Mitzi Dean and Grace Lore leading for families — editorial & ministers’ statements (January 15, 2024)


Grateful to Dean and Lore:

As stated in a news release this morning: “I am immensely grateful to Grace, Mitzi and Andrew for taking on these new roles,” said Premier Eby.

“Child care is extremely important to families, it is a significant benefit to businesses, and it is quite simply critical to our entire province. Minister Dean will be a tireless champion for B.C.’s first new major social program in a generation,” said Eby.

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“We have made considerable progress on the very difficult files within the ministry of children and family development, and I know that Minister Lore’s experience and passion will benefit young people and families.”

Two tough files:

“It’s important work,” said Eby. But added: “In order to keep moving forward, to accelerate this work (that) we need a reset at the ministry,” said Eby about Dean at MCFD.

“MCFD is not an easy file,” said Eby today. He said it’s “certainly one of the most challenging files — if not the most challenging files” — considering what is at stake, referring to children’s well-being and safety. He said that Grace Lore (a first-term MLA) is ‘up to it’.

grace lore, minister of state, child care
Grace Lore, Minister of State for Child Care [BC Govt]

Regarding Lore taking on a major ministry just 10 months before the next provincial election, Eby says that Lore brings to MFCD her oversight of the expansion of affordability and child care programs, and working with advocates in this role. The Premier pointed out Lore’s PhD in relation to gender studies. She is “very sensitive and acute understanding” of how administrative structures can impact lived experience, said Eby.

Eby referred to “Mitzi’s willingness to take on this file” (Minister of State for Child Care) and emphasized child care as “particularly before and after school programs so people can balance work and make sure kids are safe… that work is ongoing and expanding, and I’m very grateful for her to take that on.”

metchosin, summer 2023, ad

Political pressure & relief:

There was repeated political pressure from opposition parties last year for Mitzi Dean to resign from leading MCFD following the death of a child in care, but also after years of what seemed like MCFD not keeping up with the times despite deep work done to support youth who grow up and out of care and also foster families.

mitzi dean, july 2023
Mitzi Dean, Minister of Children and Family Development. [BC Govt / July 2023]

Today’s shuffle shows sharp political acumen on Eby’s part… he avoids having to ask for or receive a resignation under political pressure, while keeping two high-profile women MLAs in a positive light in the media. In the Premier placing an emphasize on the importance of child care as ‘the first new major social program in a generation’ that helps Dean save face and move forward with support and momentum in a new direction.

Clean-up ahead of October 2024 election:

Both Dean and Lore now have stronger and more streamlined launch ramps toward the October 2024 election — Mitzi Dean in her reshaped west shore riding of Esquimalt-Colwood (losing Metchosin from the soon-to-expire Esquimalt-Metchosin but gaining VicWest which is closer to the downtown Victoria core) and Grace Lore (again in Victoria-Beacon Hill).

Dean will be able to campaign in the past tense about MCFD and Lore will be able to boast promotion to that level of cabinet. Dean will have the strength of the child care issue on her side in the 2024 fall campaign.

Both Dean and Lore are south Vancouver Island MLAs, first brought into the NDP under former Premier John Horgan based on their work in advocating for families, women and children. Both have served as Parliamentary Secretary for Gender Equity (Dean was the first in 2017, then Lore from 2020 to 2022 before becoming Minister of State for Child Care in Eby’s December 2022 cabinet shuffle).

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Other cabinet moves today:

Premier Eby has also named Andrew Mercier (Langley) as Minister of State for Sustainable Forestry to support the important work of Bruce Ralston, Minister of Forests, to ensure that British Columbia is building a truly sustainable forestry industry.

“Minister Mercier will be a key partner in government to help address the urgent demand for timber supply from industry, while working to ensure that wood products are value-added to help create and protect jobs in the forestry sector,” said Premier Eby.

soil quality, workshop, langford, 2024

“Our entire cabinet has one clear goal – to make life better for people in B.C., and the changes announced today will help us do just that.”

Premier Eby has also appointed MLA George Chow (Vancouver-Fraserview) as the Parliamentary Secretary for International Credentials, building on recently passed legislation from the ministry of Post-Secondary Education and Future Skills, which removes barriers for internationally trained professionals to work in British Columbia.

ist main, crd, bchydro
Island Social Trends reports news with socioeconomic insights and analysis. Independent news service on south Vancouver Island, BC.

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===== ABOUT THE WRITER:

mary p brooke, editor, island social trends, 2018
Mary P Brooke, Editor & Publisher, Island Social Trends

Island Social Trends Editor Mary P Brooke, B.Sc., Cert PR, has been covering local and provincial news since 2008 on south Vancouver Island. Her series of publications has been: MapleLine Magazine (2008-2010), Sooke Voice News (2011-2013), West Shore Voice News (2014-2020), and Island Social Trends (mid 2020 to present).

Ms Brooke has been reporting with the BC Legislative Press Gallery since 2022 following daily provincial-level COVID news coverage in 2020-2022. She was nominated for a Jack Webster Foundation journalism award in 2023 for contributing to her community through journalism.

While running her business, Mary P Brooke raised her family of four (now grown) children during 1986-2015 in the Greater Victoria and west shore areas. She ran for school trustee in SD62 in 2022.

In 2024, in addition to launching the biweekly print edition of Island Social Trends, Ms Brooke is now taking local community leadership in urban food resilience.