Premier Stefanson Shuffles Manitoba Cabinet

Michael Diamond

Today, Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson has shuffled her first Cabinet. Including the Premier, Cabinet now consists of 18 Ministers including 3 first time Ministers and the return to Cabinet of Eileen Clarke, who resigned as Minister of Indigenous Relations this past summer in response to former Premier Brian Pallister’s comments about reconciliation and the impact of residential schools. 

The three new members of Cabinet are:

  • Scott Johnston, MLA for the west-Winnipeg riding of Assiniboia, who will serve in the new portfolio of Seniors and Long-Term Care. 
  • Doyle Piwniuk, MLA for the western Manitoba riding of Turtle Mountain, who was appointed Minister of Transportation and Infrastructure. 
  • Andrew Smith, MLA for the south-Winnipeg riding of Lagimodière, who will be Minister of Sport, Culture, and Heritage. 

Premier Stefanson has showcased her government’s priorities and her stark contrast with Brian Pallister through the formation of this Cabinet.  

Minister Clarke’s return to the Executive Council as Minister of Municipal Relations is a key indication of this change in approach from her unpopular predecessor. Abolishing the Ministry of Crown Services, which was established by Pallister to oversee Manitoba’s Crown Corporations, as well as reestablishing key ministries such as Labour are further indications of these changes. 

The overseeing of Crown Corporations will be split among other Ministries, with Manitoba Hydro overseen by the Ministry of Finance, Manitoba Public Insurance under the Attorney General, and Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries with Natural Resources and Northern Development. 

Establishing Key Priorities

COVID-19 response and recovery is clearly the top priority for the new Premier. The Ministry of Health has been divided into 3 portfolios with the reintroduction of a stand alone Minister of Health, and two new roles with a Minister of Mental Health and Community Wellness and a Minister of Seniors and Long-Term Care.  Manitoba had previously announced a task force on surgical and diagnostic backlogs as well as support for implementation of recommendations from the province’s review of the long-term care system. 

Jobs and the economy are also clearly top of mind for the Premier and with plans for post-covid growth and recovery. Cliff Cullen, a key supporter of the Premier's leadership bid will fill the dual roles of Deputy Premier and Minister of Economic Development. 

Reg Hewler, currently Minister of Central Services, will head the newly reformed Ministry of Labour, Government Services, and Consumer Protection. Additionally Jon Rayes, the outgoing Economic Development Minister will be the new Minister of Advanced Education and Training, and also be tasked with the province's immigration program. Between having a Minister of Labour and a Minister of Immigration, the province is clearly keen to move on attracting and retaining talent to Manitoba, an issue Stefanson has spoken about since becoming Premier in November. 

Further focus on the economy includes splitting the former Ministry of Agriculture and Resource Development into two stand alone Ministries being headed by Derek Johnson and Scott Fielding respectively. Both the agriculture and natural resources sectors are major economic drivers in Manitoba, and recognizing them as standalone departments is a key sign of commitment. 

Cam Friesen is moving from his role as the Attorney General back to serving as the Minister of Finance, a position he held from 2016-2018.

Kelvin Goertzen, who served as Premier following Pallister’s abrupt resignation in August, will be the new Minister of Justice and Attorney General. Goertzen, a graduate of the University of Manitoba’s School of Law, was the party’s longtime justice critic in opposition. He will remain the government’s House Leader. 

A full list of the new cabinet can be found HERE

If you have any questions about the new cabinet and how it might impact your lobbying efforts please reach out to book a call.