Estevan MLA Lori Carr is looking forward to the challenges associated with a new cabinet post.
Carr was shifted over to the minister of Social Services role on Nov. 9 as part of a post-election cabinet shuffle. Previously she had several roles, including the minister of Government Relations.
She admitted she was a little disappointed to move away from Government Relations, as she enjoyed the work associated with the portfolio. And it was a role she had a background in, as she spent more than nine years on Estevan city council before shifting to provincial politics in 2016.
“Having said that, I look forward to embracing social services and learning as I go along,” said Carr.
Her experience in dealing with Social Services has come through interactions with agencies associated with the portfolio, such as the Estevan Housing Authority and Estevan Diversified Services.
“Obviously, this is going to be on a much larger basis, because there’s child and family care and other things that go with it,” said Carr, who takes it as a compliment from Premier Scott Moe that she has been tasked with more responsibility.
Her background, though, was in financial work along with city council before she became an MLA.
“We have vulnerable people in the province that do need the assistance of our resources, and that is what we are here for. I think I am more than capable of doing that,” she said.
Her first briefing as minister was Thursday afternoon, when she was able to start digging into the information on the different community-based organizations. And she has spoken with Paul Merriman, the previous Social Services minister, about what to expect in the role.
“He said there’s no doubt that I’ll have questions that probably won’t get answered, or we’ll look at where he was at on the portfolio, and see what path we take forward, just to make sure there’s consistency,” said Carr.
Carr has been presented with a budget prepared by Merriman. She’s confident that within a week, she’ll have the basics of the department.
“This is a huge portfolio with lots of moving pieces, very important community-based organizations that I’m going to have to reach out to, to introduce myself and touch base with,” said Carr.
Some of the stakeholders were those she met with in Government Relations, so there is a crossover. But she admits it does take time to learn a portfolio after a cabinet shuffle.
It’s also a portfolio that is receiving a lot of attention as the province continues to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Carr noted that early on, through the social services portfolio, food banks were under a lot of stress, so the province reached out to them, worked with them and provided them with additional funding.
“There will be those odd one-offs, but we have a lot of existing staff. They just might be doing things a little differently than they did before,” said Carr.
The size of the provincial cabinet will remain at 18, including premier Scott Moe.