Saskatchewan Premier Scott Moe announced a significant shuffle to the provincial cabinet on Monday. This is Moe's first major cabinet shake-up since becoming party leader in January 2018 with changes in health, education, justice and social services.
"It is an honour to put in place a new cabinet to guide a government with a strong, new mandate from the people of Saskatchewan," Moe said.
"Our cabinet will continue the crucial work of building a strong Saskatchewan, work that is even more important as we continue the response to the COVID-19 pandemic and manage Saskatchewan's economic recovery."
Merriman takes over health portfolio
Paul Merriman is the new minister of health, replacing Jim Reiter who served in that role for four years.
"Health is a huge responsibility. It is a massive file," Merriman said
Merriman takes over during the midst of a significant rise in Saskatchewan's COVID-19 cases.
Merriman said his job is to get up to speed with chief medical health officer Dr. Saqib Shahab, ministry officials and the Saskatchewan Health Authority.
"I think the layers of protection that are out there are effective if they are adhered to," he said.
Merriman defended the province's pandemic response.
"I don't think we've prioritized the economy over people's safety. We had a very gradual reopen plan."
Merriman said he and the government will follow Shahab's recommendations.
Merriman was asked about a recent incident inside Saskatoon's Midtown Plaza with a group of anti-mask protesters, Witnesses said they were harassed by people not wearing masks in violation of the province's mandatory mask rule in the city.
"I'm okay with protests happening if they adhere to the public health guidelines," Merriman said.
He urged the public to follow guidelines and recommendations from officials.
"Dr. Shabab and his team have degrees on top of degrees on top of degrees — they are experts in this."
Dustin Duncan is minister of education, taking over for Gord Wyant who is now minister of justice.
Moe named Reiter minister of SaskBuilds and the Saskatchewan Liquor and Gaming Authority. Joe Hargrave is minister of highways. Gene Makowsky is now minister of advanced education.
Lori Carr is minister of social services and Warren Kaeding is minister of environment.
Don Morgan is now minister Crown Investments Corporation. He also becomes minister responsible for all major crown corporations, including SaskEnergy, SGI, SaskPower, SaskTel, SaskGaming and SaskWater.
Morgan remains minister of labour relations and workplace safety and minister responsible for the Saskatchewan Workers' Compensation Board.
McMorris back in cabinet after four years
Don McMorris returns to cabinet as minister of government relations, minister of First Nations and Métis relations and northern affairs and as minister responsible for Provincial Capital Commission.
McMorris was the deputy premier under Brad Wall but resigned from cabinet in August 2016 after a drunk driving charge. McMorris pleaded guilty one month later.
"I wished it never would have happened. It did. I can't change that. I can only go forward and be the best person that I can be. And that's what I've been working on over the last four years," McMorris said.
McMorris briefly sat as an independent after his conviction, but returned the Sask. Party caucus in March 2017. He said getting the call to return to cabinet was a "relief."
"Sometimes you take stuff for granted until you've lost it. I don't take this for granted, [this] is huge."
Donna Harpauer becomes deputy premier
Donna Harpauer is Saskatchewan's new deputy premier. Harpauer has served in every cabinet since the election of the current government in 2007. She will also continue to be minister of finance, a role she has held since 2017.
Harpauer is the first woman to hold the role of deputy premier in Saskatchewan in more than 30 years.
"I fully recognize that I am setting an example and that's important. I have three daughters and I have always felt as a mother it is my job to set the example and now I feel the pressure that I am setting an example for all women that you can do it," Harpauer said. "Donna Harpauer is one of the longest-serving cabinet ministers in the nation and without a doubt among the most capable and hard-working ministers in Canada," said Moe.
New roles for Ross, Hindley and Stewart
Regina Rochdale MLA Laura Ross takes over for Makowsky as minister of parks, culture and sport. She is also minister for the status of women.
Ross was minister of government services from June 2010 to May 2012.
There is a new cabinet portfolio for Everett Hindley as the minister of mental health and addictions and as minister of seniors and rural and remote health.
Former Agriculture Minister Lyle Stewart will serve as legislative secretary to the premier responsible for provincial autonomy.
"Stewart will focus on areas where Saskatchewan can exercise and strengthen our provincial autonomy within the Canadian federation," said Moe.
The new cabinet was sworn-in by Lieutenant Governor of Saskatchewan Russ Mirasty.
Government house leadership
Moe has made some decisions concerning government house leadership going forward.
Jeremy Harrison will serve as government house leader. Fred Bradshaw will serve as deputy government house leader.
Greg Ottenbreit will serve as government whip. Randy Weekes will serve as government deputy whip.
MLAs retaining current cabinet portfolios
Christine Tell will remain minister of corrections, policing and public safety.
Jeremy Harrison remains minister of trade and export development and minister of immigration and career training. Harrison will have the added responsibility of minister responsible for Innovation Saskatchewan and minister responsible for Tourism Saskatchewan.
David Marit will remain minister of agriculture and minister responsible for Saskatchewan Crop Insurance Corporation.
Bronwyn Eyre remains minister of energy and resources.
Ken Cheveldayoff and Ottenbreit are the only re-elected MLAs who are no longer in cabinet.
Tina Beaudry-Mellor was the only cabinet minister to not win re-election.
The size of the cabinet remains unchanged at 18, including the premier.