Premier Heather Stefanson has removed MLA Ron Schuler from his post as the province’s infrastructure minister.
The Springfield-Richot MLA has been a minister for various posts for more than six years. Reg Helwer, who is already the Minister for Central Services, will add the Infrastructure and Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization to his portfolio.
The move is unsurprising, as Schuler has been under pressure for the past several months, refusing to disclose his COVID-19 vaccination status.
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.
Stefanson said earlier this year if MLAs weren’t fully vaccinated by Dec. 15, they would be removed from both cabinet and caucus.
He did not appear to take the move in stride.
“Liberty has its price, today I paid for mine,” he tweeted after the announcement was made at the end of the day Thursday.
Schuler’s riding contains a large percentage of the population who refuse to get vaccinated.
The move also comes as COVID-19 cases spike in the province due to the Omicron variant.
“I am confident in Minister Helwer’s ability, dedication and leadership skills to take on the new role as Manitoba faces a surge in COVID-19 cases and Manitobans are asked to take every possible step to help limit the spread of this virus, including getting fully vaccinated, limiting their close contacts and following the fundamentals and public health orders,” said Stefanson.
Helwer called the new position an “honour.”
Stefanson thanked Schuler for his work and noted a cabinet shuffle will still be happening in the new year.
— with files from Shane Gibson