As the new chair of cabinet, Helena Jaczek has her work cut out for her, but the Oakridges-Markham MPP says she looking forward to the challenge.
Jaczek already serves as Minister of Community and Social Services in Premier Kathleen Wynne’s provincial government, but as chair it will be her duty to keep fellow cabinet ministers focused and on course to carry out government business during the meetings.
“It’s the chair’s job to keep people brief and to the point and at the end of the day make sure each action item is agreed to and moved forward,” Jaczek told The Review. While members of government are allowed to engage in frank debates and disagreements in private, prior to a cabinet decision, the principle of ministerial responsibility binds them to respect the confidentiality of those discussions and present a united front after a decision has been reached.
Jaczek was recently named to the post and takes over immediately, chairing the weekly meeting of 28 cabinet ministers in sessions that generally last three hours. The cabinet meetings are an integral part of governing. It is the place where advice is given to the premier while setting the business and measures that the head of each government department will propose to the legislature.
Jaczek said one of her immediate challenges will be to make sure new members of provincial parliament understand the rules and procedures of cabinets and to stress the importance of the sessions.
“It is their opportunity to give advice to the premier and it is where a lot of work gets done,” she explained.
Jaczek said a strong support staff at Queen’s Park will assist her in getting used to the role, but her experience chairing committee meetings will help.
While her role as cabinet minister keeps her busy, she said she is pleased to take on the additional work.
“It was an honour to get that call from the premier,” she said.