TORONTO - Former Toronto city councillor Brad Duguid was expected to be given a huge promotion Monday by Premier Dalton McGuinty, moving him from the low-profile aboriginal affairs portfolio to the combined Ontario ministries of energy and infrastructure.

Duguid was set to take over the two large ministries when McGuinty's new cabinet was to be sworn in later Monday, government sources confirmed. Many observers had expected McGuinty to split the two back into separate ministries because they are two of the largest in the provincial government, but that won't happen, said the sources.

Liberal veteran Gerry Phillips had accepted the energy and infrastructure post on an interim basis last fall when former minister George Smitherman quit cabinet to clear his way to run for mayor of Toronto.

Windsor's Dwight Duncan was expected to remain in the key finance portfolio, but Phillips was to be dropped from cabinet Monday, as were former consumer services minister Ted McMeekin and former natural resources minister Donna Cansfield.

McGuinty also has to fill the seat vacated by former housing minister Jim Watson, who quit cabinet last week to run for mayor of Ottawa.

There has been a lot of speculation in recent weeks that McGuinty would demote some underperforming ministers and promote some backbenchers to the cabinet table as he puts in place the team that will lead the Liberals into the 2011 election.

The sources said some big changes were in the works, but names were being withheld because the premier was still making phone calls to Liberal members to let them know who will be in the new cabinet.

One report had former finance minister Greg Sorbara returning to cabinet, but Sorbara dismissed the idea last week, saying he would concentrate on co-chairing the Liberal's re-election campaign.

There's also been talk of former health minister David Caplan returning to cabinet after serving several months in the backbench penalty box after accepting responsibility for the scandal at eHealth Ontario over untendered contracts and expense abuses.

Environment Minister John Gerretsen added Watson's housing and municipal affairs portfolio's to his job temporarily when Watson quit cabinet last week. Watson said he will resign his provincial seat before the legislature resumes sitting Feb. 16, which would force McGuinty to call another byelection.

There is already a byelection in Toronto Centre on Feb. 4 to replace Smitherman.

There's still no word if McGuinty will prorogue the legislature to give his new ministers more time to get up to speed on their files and return in March with a throne speech and a budget.