Government of Ontario unveils new cabinet

Today, Premier Doug Ford unveiled his new cabinet. Ottawa Festival Network (OFN) welcomes new Minister of Tourism, Culture and Sport, Neil Lumsden – Hamilton East-Stoney Creek.

Festivals, special events and fairs were among the first, and hardest hit sectors during the pandemic. For over two years, the industry has faced the catastrophic impacts of lockdowns and restricted capacity that caused revenue loses that cannot be recaptured. A creative and resilient industry, most of our member festivals have been able to sustain themselves during this time, in part to government support. But we are at a critical, defining stage.

Festivals are a key component of Ontario’s tourism and economic recovery. However, while some sectors have returned to operations and others have thrived, in-person events are still working towards rebuilding and recovery while facing new challenges including a labour shortage, decimated supply chain and uncertain funding. We look forward to working with the government towards efforts that will stimulate activity to drive traffic to our communities and main streets, return vibrancy and energy to our venues, and provide reason for regional visitors to explore and return to Ontario’s destinations.

We also recognize Minister Monte McNaughton – Lambton-Kent-Middlesex, who returns with an expanded role in the Labour, Immigration, Training and Skills Development portfolio. Minister McNaughton and his team worked with OFN to sustain an important job creation program – keeping Ontarians working while supporting non-profit festivals. We congratulate Minister McNaughton on his expanded ministerial role, and we look forward to continuing to work with him and his team towards solutions to our industry’s labour crisis.

We would like to thank former Minster Lisa MacLeod, MPP for Nepean, for her tireless efforts on behalf of the hardest hit sector and wish her well.