Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler, the lone holdout among members of the Manitoba Legislative Assembly in not divulging his COVID-19 vaccination status, must have gotten the jab.
Premier Heather Stefanson told reporters Tuesday everyone in her Tory caucus will be eligible to enter the legislature Wednesday when new rules take effect requiring MLAs, their staff and visitors be fully vaccinated.
"I’ve been assured that we’re good to go," said Stefanson.
She wouldn’t name Schuler (MLA for Springfield-Ritchot) or state that he is fully vaccinated, but said her cabinet — of which he is a member — will meet Wednesday and "move on."
"I’m not going to get into details on someone’s own health information. I don’t think that’s up to me to make comments on someone’s personal health information," she said.
On Dec. 1, the premier told reporters every PC MLA would have to be immunized by Dec. 15.
"If they’re not, they will be removed from caucus and cabinet," she said at the time.
Schuler has ducked reporters when asked why he wasn’t joining others in government urging Manitobans to get vaccinated to protect themselves and the health-care system that has been overwhelmed by unvaccinated COVID-19 patients.
When Schuler’s unvaccinated constituency assistant died of COVID-19 last month, a source close to the family of Gladys Hayward Williams, 70, said the MLA and others in the community influenced her decision not to get vaccinated.
The Progressive Conservative government was late in requiring its elected officials to be vaccinated, the official Opposition says.
"It shows how the PC government has not been matching the commitment that the rest of Manitoba has shown," NDP Leader Wab Kinew told reporters Tuesday.
"The rest of Manitoba was lining up — they were showing up at 4 a.m. outside of Shoppers Drug Mart in Osborne Village to get the vaccine. The PC government apparently can’t be bothered until well over a year after the vaccines are available."
Starting Dec. 15, MLAs, their constituency assistants, provincial public servants who do not work in the building, contractors performing work in the building on behalf of the Manitoba government or legislative assembly, and all visiting members of the public are required to be fully immunized and provide proof of vaccination to enter.
To align with COVID-19 prevention orders for public servants issued Nov. 12, public servants whose offices are located within the building and members of the press gallery and media staff who require access to the building will have to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID-19 test result conducted within the past 48 hours every time they enter the Manitoba Legislative Building.
"Compliance with this policy is mandatory and it is expected that treatment to staff be respectful while navigating this process," the province said in a news release.
After 20 years of reporting on the growing diversity of people calling Manitoba home, Carol moved to the legislature bureau in early 2020.