At least one member of the Pallister cabinet is not immunized against COVID-19, while a Winnipeg MLA says her constituents have no right to know whether she’s been vaccinated.
“My personal health is something I keep very strictly between me and my doctor. But thank you for your concern,” Tory MLA Janice Morley-Lecomte (Seine River) told the Free Press on Friday.
Morley-Lecomte is the only MLA of the 32 Winnipeg electoral districts who would not say whether they have been vaccinated.
The PC party disclosed Monday two of its 36 MLAs had not had a second dose of a COVID-19 shot, and would not specify whether either of the two had had a first shot nor identify them, citing privacy rules.
The Free Press has surveyed all PC MLAs since Tuesday. Two who sit in cabinet have not answered multiple emails and voicemails: Infrastructure Minister Ron Schuler and Indigenous Reconciliation Minister Alan Lagimodiere.
The PC cabinet, Schuler’s Springfield-Ritchot constituency office and Lagimodiere’s Selkirk office all ignored queries this week.
Lagimodiere, who only joined cabinet Thursday, had posted to social media numerous times about the importance of getting vaccinated.
The NDP and Liberals say all of their MLAs are vaccinated.
University of Alberta health Prof. Timothy Caulfield said it’s unhelpful to have MLAs dodge the question.
“I think it is unfortunate when politicians don’t adopt a leadership role when it comes to vaccination,” Caulfield wrote.
“The implication is either that they didn’t get the vaccine or that they don’t think it is worth celebrating the science of vaccines and the huge community benefit.”
The NDP and Liberals have questioned whether willingly unvaccinated MLAs should be allowed full access to the Manitoba Legislative Building, particularly if masking rules are dropped.
The opposition parties have accused the government of hypocrisy, in urging everyone who’s eligible to get two shots and allowing businesses to bar clients who haven’t done so.
The NDP also said if an MLA has a medical reason to not be vaccinated, they should come forward with that fact, to illustrate the importance of everyone else doing so.
Yet, earlier this week, Premier Brian Pallister responded MLAs have no obligation to inform the public.
“I’m not going to be talking about personal health details with anyone; that’s the choice of every Manitoban,” he said Wednesday.
Morley-Lecomte echoed that perspective Friday: “My health is between me and my doctor and it’s not something I’ve ever discussed publicly, nor will I.”
Caulfield, who specializes in health myths and legislation, argued people are overstating the privacy issue.
“Vaccination status is one specific bit of information that has relevance to public health. Privacy fearmongering can feed vaccine hesitancy,” he wrote.
“This is crunch time. We need leaders to step up.”