Manitoba cabinet minister to be removed from caucus if not vaccinated by Dec. 15: premier

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson says all members of caucus and cabinet will need to be fully vaccinated by Dec. 15 or else they will be out of a job. For that, and the latest on Omicron in Manitoba, here's Rosanna Hempel.

Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson says the province’s infrastructure minister will be out of a job if he isn’t vaccinated in the next two weeks.

Ron Schuler is the lone Manitoba MLA who hasn’t disclosed his vaccination status.

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Stefanson said Wednesday all members of caucus and cabinet will need to be fully-vaccinated by Dec. 15.

“Premier Stefanson expects all members of cabinet and caucus to be fully vaccinated in time for new requirements for access to the Manitoba Legislative Building,” a spokesperson from Stefanson’s office said in a statement.

“This includes the Minister of Infrastructure.”

If Schuler isn’t vaccinated by the deadline, Stefanson says he’ll be removed from caucus and cabinet. She said politicians must set the tone.

“I very much believe in vaccines. They are working … and I think as leaders, we should lead by example,” Stefanson told reporters.

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Stefanson has set Dec. 15 as the start date for new requirements that will see only the fully-vaccinated — politicians, staff, even public visitors — allowed to access to the Legislature.

Wednesday was the first time she made it a condition of remaining in cabinet and caucus. She would not indicate whether Schuler has agreed to abide by the rule.

“I’m not going to get into individual conversations that I have.”

Schuler, a veteran legislature member who ran for the Tory leadership 15 years ago, is the only provincial politician who has refused to say whether he is vaccinated. The other 56 members have said they are.

Schuler has also been noticeably absent from places where vaccines are mandatory, such as the recent Tory leadership convention and the legislature chamber. He has participated in chamber debates virtually.

Given the timeline, Schuler would have no time to begin the 45-plus day journey to becoming fully-vaccinated with a two-dose vaccine,  if he hasn’t already received at least one shot.

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Stefanson avoided calls Tuesday to remove Schuler from cabinet.

Global News reached out to Schuler’s office for comment, asking specifically whether or not he’d be able to continue in caucus past the deadline.

“As stated in house yesterday, no one in Caucus is opposed to vaccinations, however, my personal health information is a private matter and I do not discuss my personal health information publicly,” he said in a statement.

Stefanson said the Dec. 15 deadline could be moved up if appropriate systems are put in place.

Families Minister Rochelle Squires said Stefanson’s vaccine requirement is “a great policy.”

The Opposition New Democrats said the Tories should have required all caucus members to be vaccinated long ago.

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“It’s not much of an ultimatum, coming in December of a year when every Manitoban has been told to get vaccinated,” NDP Leader Wab Kinew said.

“At this stage, if you didn’t already get the vaccine and you’re in the government’s cabinet, what are you doing?”

–With files from The Canadian Press, Brittany Greenslade, Rosanna Hempel, and Skylar Peters

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out. In situations where you can’t keep a safe distance from others, public health officials recommend the use of a non-medical face mask or covering to prevent spreading the respiratory droplets that can carry the virus. In some provinces and municipalities across the country, masks or face coverings are now mandatory in indoor public spaces.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, visit our coronavirus page.

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