While other ministers in the Ford Government have had higher profiles, it turns out that Doug Ford had quietly entrusted his new Finance Minister Peter Bethlenfalvy with the job of reorganizing the Ontario Government. As president of the Treasury Board Bethlenfalvy had the job of scrutinizing every expenditure made by every department of government, but the minister’s mandate has expanded far beyond that traditional role. In the two years as Treasury Board President, Bethlenfalvy has put practices in place to break down silos between the ministries, and to digitize many of the services Government provides to the population.
As finance Minister Bethlenfalvy brings arguably more financial experience to the table than any finance minister in recent memory. Graduating from McGill with an MBA, he spent 15 years on Wall Street ending up as the head of TD securities. He was senior vice-president of financial regulations at Manulife Financial, co-president of Dominion Bond Rating Service and was Chief Investment Officer of CTS Consultants when he was elected to the legislature in 2018.
Speaking to a group of risk management experts earlier this year, Bethlenfalvy described how he has brought in experts from the private sector to assist him with the task of streamlining government services, as he described it, “building government that puts people at the centre.”
He told TVO’s Steve Paikin that his interest in Ontario’s Government came in 2009 when he was head of Dominion Bond Rating, and had concluded that it was necessary of downgrade the province’s credit rating in the McGuinty era. “What really got me was the fiscal situation in Ontario. Having worked at DBRS, downgrading the credit rating of the province in 2009, I really did know the numbers. And contrasting against other provinces, who were starting to take tough action, to look down the road a little bit– And those aren’t easy decisions that you make to get to the path of balance. The outlier was Ontario. Ontario just didn’t seem to think that that was necessary.” He noted that Ontario’s debt-to-GDP ratio in the Bob Rae days was 13 percent—now it is 40 percent.
Mr. Bethlenfalvy was born in Montreal, the son of Hungarian refugees. He says the family name dates back centuries into the Austro-Hungarian Empire. For the moment he will continue as Treasury Board President as well as Finance Minister, making him arguably the most powerful minister in the Ford Government.