P.E.I. forestry file to return to ag department

A move to "streamline" Prince Edward Island’s provincial government off the top will see its agriculture department take back responsibility for forestry.

The transfer sets up a department of agriculture and forestry, to be headed by the province’s current agriculture minister and deputy premier, George Webster, and by deputy minister John MacQuarrie, who until now was the top bureaucrat in the environment, energy and forestry department.

Premier Robert Ghiz on Tuesday also announced the former department of environment, energy and forestry and the former department of justice and public safety will be replaced by one new department of environment, labour and justice, headed by the previous environment, energy and forestry minister, Janice Sherry.

The energy file, meanwhile, is to move to a finance, energy and municipal affairs department, led by current finance minister Wes Sheridan.

Ghiz, for his part, plans to take over responsibility for aboriginal affairs and bring it into his intergovernmental affairs portfolio.

In all, Ghiz’s inter-departmental shuffle reduces the number of provincial ministries from 11 to 10.

Ghiz also announced changes to his senior management team, reducing its size through "reorganization and vacancy management."

Among those changes, Brian Douglas, who until now was the province’s deputy minister for agriculture, will become deputy minister for transportation and infrastructure renewal, in a department led by minister Robert Vessey.

All the changes, Ghiz said Tuesday, needed to reflect emerging priorities for the new government.

"We need to bolster and strengthen our government’s focus — particularly as it relates to financial management, growing the private sector through new jobs and exports and strengthening our policy capacity in other key areas."

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