Receiving a phone call to go to St. John’s late last week, Lisa Dempster suspected she was destined for a role in the Ball government’s cabinet shuffle. But, it was not until Monday afternoon she got the details of what that role would be. Only two hours later, the changes were made public.
“That’s common in this business, the only constant is change,” said Dempster.
The hustle and bustle of the cabinet shuffle has kept Dempster busy all week. She’s been attending a variety of meetings, briefings and media interviews — which she says has only given her enough time for a daily diet of hard-boiled eggs.
But Dempster is looking forward to her new challenges and responsibilities. She feels it is a department which fits her just right.
“It aligns with the things I value most in life,” she said. “If I could have chosen any department, it would have been this one.”
The department will have Dempster focusing on a variety of heavy hitting and often emotional concerns. Services related to child protection, seniors, disabilities, poverty reduction, social housing, and a variety of others will now be her responsibility.
One major issue at the top of Dempster’s list is finalizing the Children and Youth Care and Protection Act. The act is currently under review, and is expected to be brought before the House of Assembly in the fall.
Also, Dempster is hard at work, studying other tasks the department is working on and ways they can be enhanced — such as disability services.
“When you say the word disability, that’s an umbrella that covers so much,” she said. “So, I want to get out and engage with people who live with disabilities, community organizations, municipal governments, and find the best solutions.”
She’s also hoping to deal with the variety of issues surrounding Newfoundland and Labrador’s aging population. While it brings on an array of challenges, Dempster specifically wants to improve care for seniors — who she feels communities owe so much to.
Like most ministers, Dempster says she is hoping to bring her own personality and life experience to the department. Her 23 years working with career counselling and helping people work towards employment has left a lasting impression on her. She says it is a valued experience for her new role.
“Those who know me would be quick to identify me as a champion for social issues,” said Dempster. “I really care about people, it’s a big part of who I am.”
As she steps forward into this new journey, she says she will remain an active force with the public she represents as an MHA in Labrador. Without these communities, the new minister says her new role would have been impossible.
“Without the support of my constituents, I would never have been given this opportunity as a minster of the Crown,” she said. “It’s very humbling and I’m grateful for it.”