Manitoba Premier Heather Stefanson is planning a cabinet shuffle after several of her Progressive Conservative caucus members recently announced they will not run again in the election slated for Oct. 3.

Stefanson did not give a precise date while fielding questions from reporters Monday, but said it is time for a refresh "in the next little while."

"We will be making some changes there," Stefanson said in her first media availability since the holidays.

"I think now is a time when people have made their decisions ... with their families as to what their future holds. I think it's time for some changes."

Ten of the 36 Tory caucus members have announced in recent months they will serve out their term but not run again, many of them last week. Among them are four cabinet ministers — Cliff Cullen, Eileen Clarke, Alan Lagimodiere and Reg Helwer. Another cabinet minister, Scott Fielding, left politics last June for a job in the private sector.

The announcements come at a time when the governing Tories continue to trail the Opposition New Democrats in opinion polls, especially in Winnipeg, where most legislature seats are. 

Tory poll numbers dropped in the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic as case numbers rose sharply and hospitals struggled to keep up. At one point, dozens of intensive care patients were flown to other provinces due to a lack of beds.

Stefanson pointed out most of those not seeking re-election are older.

"We had a number of individuals who had been around for a long time in politics, and they've made those decisions because all of a sudden, in the last few years, they've had grandkids, they want to move on," Stefanson said.

Most of the Tories who recently announced plans to retire from politics are in their mid-60s or early 70s. In social media posts and prepared statements, they have cited personal or family reasons. Myrna Driedger, the legislature speaker, took to Twitter last week to reject accusations she was leaving because of poor polling.

"After 25 years of public service it was time to leave. Period!!" she wrote.

Stefanson did not rule out the possibility of more Tories deciding not to run again before the fall election. While most of the remaining Tories have committed to seeking another term, a few have yet to make any public announcements.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 9, 2023.