Manitoba

Minister could be refused entry after Manitoba legislature mandates vaccinations next month

Manitoba's new premier has rejected calls to demand her MLAs be fully vaccinated, but her government will soon require proof if they want to enter the Manitoba Legislature.

Nearly all MLAs confirmed COVID-19 vaccination status, but Ron Schuler has not disclosed his yet

Heather Stefanson revealed Monday her government is planning to require that everyone entering the legislature demonstrate their vaccination status beginning on Dec. 15. (Gary Solilak/CBC)

Manitoba's new premier has rejected calls to demand her MLAs be fully vaccinated, but her government will soon require proof if they want to enter the Manitoba Legislature.

Heather Stefanson revealed her government is planning to require that everyone entering the legislature — ranging from MLAs to government staff and visitors — demonstrate their vaccination status beginning on Dec. 15, she said Monday after speaking to the Association of Manitoba Municipalities convention. 

"That will take some time," Stefanson told reporters, explaining the timeline.

"There's a few different government departments involved in that — Central Services, Justice and our deputy premier as well in his department — so they're working on that."

The vaccination mandate may become a point of contention for Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler, who has kept mum on whether he's rolled up his sleeves, despite repeated inquiries. 

For months, the governing Progressive Conservatives have said 34 of their 36 MLAs have provided proof of vaccination. The Winnipeg Free Press polled every MLA in Manitoba and reported Schuler and Seine River representative Janice Morley-Lecomte — both Tories — were the only ones who wouldn't answer the question. 

Morley-Lecomte now on side

However, Morley-Lecomte confirmed on the weekend she is now fully vaccinated, after she was called out for trying to eat at a Winnipeg café without producing an adequate proof of vaccination.

She was in attendance at the Progressive Conservative leadership convention last month, where attendees had to show their vaccination status.

Schuler said in a statement Monday his "personal health information is a private matter and I do not discuss my personal health information publicly."

He was not present at either last month's party leadership announcement, nor the AMM convention on Monday where a vaccination requirement was also enforced. 

Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler, seen earlier this month, may be barred from entering the Manitoba Legislature starting in December if he is not vaccinated. He has refused to confirm his vaccination status for months. (Justin Fraser/CBC)

The NDP and Liberals have said all their MLAs are fully vaccinated.

An agreement between party house leaders has restricted capacity in the legislative chamber throughout the pandemic and, more recently, demanded MLAs be fully inoculated against COVID-19 to take their seats.

A third of MLAs will continue to participate virtually in question period, which returns on Tuesday. 

Winnipeg city hall has required everyone to be vaccinated by Nov. 15, while, beginning on Monday, Parliament Hill in Ottawa is enforcing that mandate for parliamentarians, unless they can produce a valid medical exemption. 

Meanwhile, Stefanson said she believes the issue of Morley-Lecomte failing to show their proper vaccination status at a Winnipeg restaurant has been settled.

The matter came to light after Oakwood Café owner Wendy May detailed her staff's interaction with the MLA in a letter to the premier and other party leaders. Liberal Leader Dougald Lamont published an excerpt of the letter on social media last weekend.

May said Morley-Lecomte insisted restaurant staff was mistaken when they asked to see her QR code, and she left the bistro, May said. Manitoba has required restaurant patrons seeking to dine indoors to show their scannable code.

Morley-Lecomte has since downloaded a copy of her QR code onto her phone, Stefanson said on Monday.

"I think that that issue is moot now. That's been dealt with and it's dealt with to my satisfaction."

The Seine River MLA showed a printed-out piece of paper with her vaccination record, May said, but that document alone, devoid of the QR code, falls short of provincial requirements.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Ian Froese

Provincial Affairs Reporter

Ian Froese covers provincial politics and its impact for CBC Manitoba. He previously reported on a bit of everything for newspapers. You can reach him at ian.froese@cbc.ca.

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