12/06/2017 12:47 EST | Updated 12/06/2017 17:05 EST

Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc Diagnosed With Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia

The New Brunswick MP will serve in cabinet while seeking treatment.

Chris Wattie / Reuters
Dominic LeBlanc speaks in the House of Commons on Dec. 8, 2015.

Federal Fisheries Minister Dominic LeBlanc has been diagnosed with chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

In a statement released Wednesday, LeBlanc said he will continue to serve as a member of Parliament and in federal cabinet as he begins treatment next week.

"Like tens of thousands of Canadians living with chronic illness, I will continue to work," he said in the release, adding that the treatments could not have come at a better time given the upcoming holiday break.

"The parliamentary calendar gives me the flexibility to start right away," he said.

LeBlanc said he was referred to a specialist last spring after his family doctor noticed an anomaly in his white blood cell count. He learned his diagnosis in April.

The release also quotes specialist Dr. Nicholas Finn saying LeBlanc's cancer is one of the most common types of leukemia in adults.

"CLL is a chronic disease in the sense that it must be closely monitored and sometimes treated, but can be controlled," Finn said in the release.

LeBlanc said in his release that while "many Canadians face health challenges much more difficult than this," he is confident it will not impact his work.

LeBlanc, 49, has represented the New Brunswick riding of Beauséjour since 2000. He was named government House leader in 2015 and became the full-time minister of fisheries and oceans in 2016 after serving in that post for an interim period after Hunter Tootoo's resignation.

Prime Minister Justin Trudeau tweeted that LeBlanc will "continue to excel" as a minister and MP.

LeBlanc was in question period Wednesday to field questions on behalf of Trudeau, who is in China. Green Party Leader Elizabeth May sparked applause at one point by acknowledging LeBlanc's announcement.

"Mr. Speaker, it is tricky to do this but I cannot ask my question until I express what I think is in all of our hearts. Best wishes to the minister of fisheries as he faces his new health challenges," she said.

Earlier: LeBlanc discusses "sunny ways" in Parliament