Friesen shuffled to health

Cameron Friesen gets sworn in as Health Minister with Manitoba Lt. Gov. Janice Filmon. (SUPPLIED PHOTO)

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Morden-Winkler MLA Cameron Friesen has been bumped from one high profile position in Premier Brian Pallister’s cabinet to another.
“It truly feels like out of the frying pan and into another frying pan,” Friesen joked after being shuffled from minister of finance to health.
While he admits he was surprised to be moved to a new portfolio after 27 months as finance minister, Friesen said he considers his primary responsibility is to his constituents.
“I always keep in mind in my role, that the greatest honour I have is to represent the constituency of Morden-Winkler in the legislature,” he said. “I never lose sight of that.”
Friesen replaces Kelvin Goertzen who becomes Education minister.
Scott Fielding will take over the Finance post.
Other changes include St. Vital MLA Colleen Mayer as minister of Crown Services, Tuxedo MLA Heather Stefanson as Department of Families and deputy premier, and Cliff Cullen as Justice Minister.
Friesen was first elected as MLA in 2011, getting the finance portfolio in 2016.
He said it’s a big responsibility to have finance or health in times of change.
“I acknowledge that the premier must have great faith in me and I appreciate the extent of his confidence in me to go from arguably the largest and most challenging role in government, which is the fiscal recovery of the province… and than to move from there to an equal challenge which is the transformation of our health system,” he said.
Friesen said he will miss the finance portfolio.
“You cannot have invested that much in terms of time, effort and energy and then have it removed on such short notice and not feel a sense of loss,” he said.
Friesen said they had made progress on issues like deficit reduction, tax reduction and financial stability.
“We had received good expressions back from credit rating agencies and we received positive expressions from our investors who buy Manitoba bonds,” he said.
However there is much left to do including reforms to pension and cannabis taxation.
“The regret I feel is I can’t see those files through,” he said.
Friesen said there’s lots to learn as he transitions to health.
“We’re undertaking the broadest series of changes in our health system in a generation and we’re doing it because they are necessary,” he said. “They are based on evidence, they are based on careful engagement with Manitobans, they are based on driving down wait times and improving on access to care for Manitobans.”
“If left unchecked, health care will be inaccessible, or it will swallow up the entire budget of provincial governments,” he added.
Friesen said he brings his strengths to his new portfolio.
“I consider myself to be someone who works hard, who comes to issues objectively, who listens and is teachable,” he said. “And I’ll continue that same approach when it comes to healthcare.”
“Manitobans deserve access to care that is timely, in the right place and at the right time,” he added.
Friesen also expressed his gratitude to former Health Minister Kelvin Goertzen and best wishes for new Finance minister Scott Fielding.

Cameron Friesen gets sworn in as Health Minister with Manitoba Lt. Gov. Janice Filmon. (SUPPLIED PHOTO)

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