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Winnipeg councillor taking a leave for health-related reasons

A Winnipeg city councillor is taking a temporary leave of absence from his role.

John Orlikow, who represents the River Heights-Fort Garry ward, made the announcement on Friday.

“Recently, I have been experiencing some physical health issues and after speaking with my doctor, I have decided that it is best that I take a temporary leave from Council,” Orlikow wrote in a statement.

“I have spoken with Mayor Gillingham and informed him that I am stepping aside as Chair of the Standing Policy Committee on Community Services and the Budget Working Group to focus on getting better and ensure that City Council can continue to make progress on important issues that matter to the residents of the River Heights-Fort Garry Ward and all Winnipeggers.”

Talking with CTV News on Friday, Gillingham said he was surprised by the news.

“But as individuals, our health is our number one priority,” said Gillingham.

The mayor said he learned of Orlikow’s decision earlier this week, but noted this is all about his well-being, which is a private matter.

“The focus right now is on Orlikow’s health and I’m hoping he gets stronger and healthier soon and it would be great to have him back fully engaged in council.”

Moving forward, Gillingham has promoted Coun. Evan Duncan to replace Orlikow in his executive policy committee as the chair of community services.

“I have a wealth of knowledge when it comes to working in youth justice, through Manitoba Justice, as well as working with our community centres,” said Duncan.

He said he is excited to represent Charleswood-Tuxedo-Westwood on EPC again.

Orlikow said his office will remain open to help constituents, saying his executive assistant will oversee the work, and that more staff have been hired.

Orlikow has served as a Winnipeg councillor since 2009.

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