QUEBEC -- Premier Philippe Couillard tweaked his cabinet on Monday after Education Minister Pierre Moreau relinquished his major responsibilities because of health issues.

Moreau's office issued a statement saying his symptoms, clinical tests and medical imaging point to a neoplasia -- a new, uncontrolled growth of cells that suggests a tumour.

The nature of the growth is unclear.

The statement said biopsies are underway and Moreau's doctor has told him to substantially reduce his professional activities in the coming months in order to undergo treatment.

Moreau, 58, was named education minister at the end of January but did not attend the swearing-in ceremony because of illness.

He returned to work less than a week ago.

"It's sad news today," Couillard said. "Sad news that hits a brilliant man, a strong man, a man who is committed, committed in everything he does, as he will be in his fight against his illness."

Couillard announced that Moreau's portfolios will be split among three people.

Helene David will take over as higher education minister, while Family Minister Sebastien Proulx will also become education minister.

Lucie Charlebois will take over from Moreau as minister representing the Montreal-area Monteregie region, in addition to her current tasks in public health and youth protection.

Luc Fortin will replace David as culture minister.

Moreau has previously held several high-profile portfolios in the Couillard government, including municipal affairs and public security.

His office says he intends to begin treatment right away so he can resume his work.