Premier Heather Stefanson said she kicked Ron Schuler out of cabinet because he wouldn’t get on the same page as her government when it came to urging Manitobans to get vaccinated.

Premier Heather Stefanson said she kicked Ron Schuler out of cabinet because he wouldn’t get on the same page as her government when it came to urging Manitobans to get vaccinated.

"The public messaging from Mr. Schuler has not been necessarily consistent with the spirit of our government’s efforts to get Manitobans fully vaccinated and continue to move forward on that front," Stefanson said when asked at a COVID-19 news conference Tuesday.

On Dec. 30, the premier issued a short statement thanking Schuler for serving as infrastructure minister and minister responsible for the Emergency Measures Organization.

It said his cabinet duties would be taken over by Central Services Minister Reg Helwer, and that a cabinet shuffle would take place in the new year.

Schuler responded that day, tweeting "Liberty has its price, today I paid for mine."

In a Free Press survey of all MLAs last year, he was one of two holdouts, both Tories, who wouldn’t declare their vaccination status.

After Stefanson became premier on Nov. 2, she mandated that all Tory MLAs must be fully vaccinated by Dec. 15. Schuler remained in cabinet but refused to discuss his vaccination status and wouldn’t say that he supported public health orders to do so.

Stefanson wouldn’t elaborate on the timing or reasons for Schuler’s ouster from cabinet.

"I get that people’s personal health information is personal to them, and I don’t believe that I should be in the position to disclose what someone else’s personal health information is," she said Tuesday.

His public comments regarding vaccine hesitancy, however, have been a "distraction," she said.

"We need to keep laser-focused on ensuring that Manitobans get fully vaccinated. We know that that helps keep Manitobans out of hospitals, out of ICUs, and we’ll continue to promote that as a government."

Schuler remains in the Progressive Conservative caucus, the premier said.

- with files from Dylan Robertson

carol.sanders@freepress.mb.ca