Who are Hamilton MP Filomena Tassi and Markham-Stouffville MP Helena Jaczek, the two cabinet ministers who traded jobs?


Published August 31, 2022 at 5:22 pm

OTTAWA — In a straightforward swap of positions Prime Minister Justin Trudeau announced Wednesday at Rideau Hall, Helena Jaczek is replacing Filomena Tassi as Canada’s minister of public services and procurement.

Tassi is taking Jaczek’s role as minister responsible for the Federal Economic Development Agency for Southern Ontario (FedDev Ontario).

Here’s what you need to know about them both.

Helena Jaczek

Jaczek is stepping into a more senior federal cabinet portfolio after Wednesday’s changes, but it won’t be Jaczek’s first time in a big political job.

She was the Ontario member of provincial parliament for Oak Ridges-Markham from 2007 until 2018, becoming the provincial minister of community and social services in 2014 under Kathleen Wynne’s premiership.

For the couple of months leading up to the Ontario provincial election in 2018, she served as the minister of health and long-term care.

She lost her bid for re-election in 2018 but successfully ran for federal office in 2019, replacing former Liberal cabinet minister Jane Philpott as the MP for Markham-Stouffville. She was first named to cabinet after the federal election last year.

Jaczek received a medical degree from the University of Toronto and a master of business administration from York University. She also served for 18 years as the chief medical officer of health for York Region.

Jaczek said on Twitter on Wednesday that she looks forward to helping Canada transition to a clean economy, create new jobs and increase access to economic opportunities for all.

Filomena Tassi

The minor shuffle by Trudeau was prompted by a request from Tassi to spend more time with family. In a statement, she said her husband suffered two strokes earlier this year.

“As anyone whose family has had a similar experience will know, post-stroke care can be complex and filled with uncertainty,” the statement said. She said she approached Trudeau last month to discuss balancing the needs of her family and the travel demands of her job.

After the 2021 election, Tassi was promoted to the procurement file, taking over from Anita Anand, who had led Ottawa’s efforts to purchase vaccines and other supplies in response to the COVID-19 pandemic before she moved to National Defence.

The scramble to get the vaccines into Canada had largely subsided by then, but the file remained a busy one, with Tassi at the helm when children became eligible for shots, and the federal government also needed boosters.

Tassi is a former lawyer who spent the final years of her pre-political life working as a chaplain and as a Catholic school board trustee.

She has a bachelor’s degree in law from Western University, and a master’s degree in religious education from the University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto.

After spending six years practising law, she left professional life to raise her two kids before becoming a chaplain for the Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic School Board.

In 2018, Tassi entered cabinet as the minister of seniors, then served as the minister of labour from 2019 to 2021.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Aug. 31, 2022.

David Fraser, The Canadian Press

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