Rod Phillips has been ousted as Ontario finance minister after flouting provincial tips to go on a Caribbean vacation over the Christmas break.
In an announcement Thursday afternoon, Premier Doug Ford mentioned he had accepted Phillips’ resignation after chatting with the Ajax MPP, who hours earlier returned from a trip along with his spouse to the tropical island of St. Barts.
“At a time when the individuals of Ontario have sacrificed a lot, at this time’s resignation is an illustration that our authorities takes severely our obligation to carry ourselves to a better commonplace,” Ford mentioned.
The premier mentioned he had requested Treasury Board President Peter Bethlenfalvy to take over as finance minister and ship the province’s 2021 finances.
“This appointment will assist guarantee financial stability within the months forward, as we help Ontario households, employees and companies by the COVID-19 pandemic, and as we chart our path to long-term financial restoration,” the premier mentioned.
Phillips will stay within the Ontario PC caucus as a member of provincial parliament.
Information of the journey, which Phillips left for on Dec. 13 as his authorities lectured Ontarians about the necessity to keep residence to battle the pandemic, had provoked outrage from the general public and opposition figures because it turned public Tuesday.
In an announcement Thursday, Ontario NDP Chief Andrea Horwath, who earlier this week referred to as on the premier to fireplace Phillips, mentioned the minister’s resignation didn’t absolve the federal government.
“Doug Ford knew about Rod Phillips’ journey to St. Barts two weeks in the past. Not solely did Ford not hearth him then, he helped him preserve the journey a secret. Phillips’ resignation from cupboard at this time isn’t due to Phillips’ trip, it’s as a result of they acquired caught,” Horwath mentioned.
Mike Schreiner, Chief of the Inexperienced Social gathering of Ontario, mentioned in assertion that Phillips “did the appropriate factor by resigning.”
“However I’m unhappy and offended that that is the headline” at a time when the province hit a one-day record of recent COVID-19 circumstances, hospitals are “overflowing,” and long-term-care residents “are dealing with a humanitarian disaster,” he mentioned.
Chatting with reporters after disembarking at Pearson Airport Thursday morning, Phillips mentioned he had made “a dumb, dumb mistake” however mentioned he hadn’t supplied the premier to step down.
“I do know that individuals are understandably offended concerning the state of affairs, and I do hope to have the ability to regain their confidence within the days and weeks and months forward,” he mentioned, whereas acknowledging it’s as much as the premier to resolve who serves in cupboard.
After Ford introduced he was out as minister, Phillips launched an announcement saying he had submitted his resignation.
“Travelling over the vacations was the flawed resolution, and I as soon as once more provide my unreserved apology,” he mentioned.
Phillips mentioned he wished Bethlenfalvy nicely and regarded ahead to persevering with to serve his constituents as MPP.
“Making certain Ontario emerges from COVID-19 in a powerful place was my precedence because the Minister of Finance, and it must be the federal government’s precedence going ahead,” he mentioned.
Phillips went straight from Pearson airport to his rental in Ajax, the place he’ll quarantine for the following two weeks as required for worldwide travellers.
Sources advised the Star that Ford had been feeling stress from caucus and cupboard members who have been offended to study Phillips’ journey and anxious it may undermine the province’s pandemic efforts.
They felt strongly that he needed to go and advised the premier so, sources mentioned.
Ford’s workplace mentioned Tuesday that Phillips hadn’t advised the premier about his trip earlier than he left, and Ford mentioned in an announcement he had requested the minister to return “instantly.”
On Wednesday, Ford clarified that he spoke to Phillips “shortly after” he arrived within the Caribbean two weeks in the past and regretted not ordering him at that time to come back.