Premier Brian Pallister set to announce cabinet shuffle

Manitoba Premier Brian Pallister will announce changes to his cabinet team Tuesday afternoon. 

This will be the first cabinet shuffle since the COVID-19 pandemic began. 

The swearing-in ceremony is set to take place at 11 a.m. Pallister will speak to reporters at 1 p.m., while new ministers will speak at 2:30 p.m., says a news release from the province. 

The daily COVID-19 briefing is being pushed back to 3:30 p.m.

The last cabinet shuffle happened in October 2019.

Media aren’t allowed to attend the swearing-in ceremony but the province is live streaming it on its YouTube channel:

The premier has been suffering his lowest approval ratings since he took office in 2016, and his government has been under intense scrutiny over its handling of the pandemic. 

A Probe Research poll released in December suggested popular support for Manitoba’s governing Progressive Conservative party has fallen lower than support for the Opposition NDP.

The future of Health Minister Cameron Friesen has also been the subject of speculation. 

Friesen was absent from news conferences for more than a month when the province had some of its worst COVID-19 case counts and double-digit deaths almost every day.

He participated in a COVID-19 briefing on Dec. 21, after Pallister said he was thinking about appointing a second health minister to ease the workload during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Even without a pandemic, the department is the government’s largest, Pallister said.

Some provinces already have two health ministers. For example, in Ontario, one is dedicated to long-term care, while in British Columbia, one is focused on mental health and addictions.