There appears to be little or no vaccine hesitancy among the province's MLAs.

There appears to be little or no vaccine hesitancy among the province's MLAs.

A survey of the 57 members of the Manitoba legislative assembly, conducted through their party caucuses, reveals that 54 had either received a first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine or booked an appointment as of 9 a.m. Monday.

Thirty-three of 36 Progressive Conservative MLAs had either got the jab or booked one, a government spokesman said.

Premier Brian Pallister waves to vaccination staff in Winnipeg’s convention centre as Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, prepares his COVID shot last month.

JOHN WOODS / CANADIAN PRESS FILES

Premier Brian Pallister waves to vaccination staff in Winnipeg’s convention centre as Dr. Brent Roussin, chief provincial public health officer, prepares his COVID shot last month.

Of the three who hadn't done so, one was under the age of 30 and unable to book an appointment by Monday.

On Tuesday, the age for booking appointments was lowered to 24 and older. On Wednesday, the province is set to open reservations to all adults 18 and over.

The New Democrats reported that 16 of their 18 MLAs had received an initial dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, while the other two had booked appointments.

Two of the three Liberal MLAs had received their first shots, while the third had made arrangements to do so.

NDP leader Wab Kinew recieves a COVID-19 vaccination from Dr. Marcia Anderson, public health lead, Manitoba First Nation Pandemic Response Coordination Team, at Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre last month.

SUPPLIED

NDP leader Wab Kinew recieves a COVID-19 vaccination from Dr. Marcia Anderson, public health lead, Manitoba First Nation Pandemic Response Coordination Team, at Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre last month.

The PCs did not differentiate between those who had received a shot and those who had booked an appointment.

All three party leaders have indicated they've received an initial vaccination. Premier Brian Pallister, NDP Leader Wab Kinew and Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont all shared photos of their vaccinations to encourage Manitobans to get a shot.

The Free Press did not ask for the names of MLAs who had been vaccinated or not in its initial request to the three political parties. The objective was to learn how many members of the legislative assembly were taking advantage of their ability to be vaccinated.

CTV News conducted a similar survey in Alberta. Nineteen of that province's 87 MLAs refused to answer questions about their vaccination plans, even after repeated calls and emails. Eighteen were members of the governing United Conservative Party.

On April 23 Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont posted on Twitter: "For my birthday, I got my first shot of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine. #mbpoli #vaccinateMB".

TWITTER

On April 23 Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont posted on Twitter: "For my birthday, I got my first shot of the AstraZeneca Covishield vaccine. #mbpoli #vaccinateMB".

Due to the pandemic, seating in the Manitoba legislature has been limited for the past year. Currently, only 10 PC members, five NDPers and one Liberal, plus the Speaker, are allowed in the chamber at any one time. Other MLAs participate remotely through a video link.

With the prospect of most or all MLAs being fully vaccinated by fall, the legislative assembly could be full as soon as early October, when members return from their summer break.

However, no discussions have yet taken place about the timing of a possible return to business as usual, Speaker Myrna Driedger said in an email Tuesday.

Asked about the prospect of a full legislative chamber this fall, government house leader Kelvin Goertzen said in a statement that it has always been the intention of all political parties to have as many members participating in person as is advisable by public health officials.

"I am grateful as government house leader for the collaborative efforts of house leaders from each party and the incredible work of assembly staff to make virtual sittings possible," he said.

According to the government, 565,000 doses of vaccine have been administered in Manitoba so far. Nearly 45 per cent of Manitobans 18 and up have received at least one dose.

larry.kusch@freepress.mb.ca

Larry Kusch

Larry Kusch
Legislature reporter

Larry Kusch didn’t know what he wanted to do with his life until he attended a high school newspaper editor’s workshop in Regina in the summer of 1969 and listened to a university student speak glowingly about the journalism program at Carleton University in Ottawa.

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