News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

May 30, 2019

AMENDMENTS TO THE MENTAL HEALTH ACT PROCLAIMED

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Changes Will Support Better Care for Patients, Ensure Police Focus on Policing: Friesen

Amendments to The Mental Health Act that allow a trained, qualified person to receive custody of individuals awaiting an involuntary medical examination or psychiatric assessment have been proclaimed and will come into effect this Saturday, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen announced today.

“Health providers require support when caring for people who need involuntary medical examinations or psychiatric assessments, but this work does not always need to be done by police officers,” said Friesen.  “This amendment allows officers to transfer custody to trained individuals who can provide that kind of care, so the police can return to their duties in the community.”

The amendment will allow police to transfer custody of an individual detained under the act to a qualified person, who has received training specified in the regulations.  That qualified person will remain with the individual.

Currently, a police officer must wait with a patient until the medical examination or psychiatric assessment is completed, the person is admitted to the facility or the attending physician determines that their continued custody of the person is not required.

“Public safety is a top priority for municipalities,” said Ralph Groening, president, Association of Manitoba Municipalities.  “Allowing trained personnel at health-care facilities, rather than a police officer, to supervise an individual who is awaiting a mental health assessment should significantly reduce policing costs and help ensure police service coverage in local communities.”

The deployment of qualified people in health-care facilities is to be done in stages, beginning with Health Sciences Centre Winnipeg, Selkirk Hospital and Brandon Regional Health Centre once the legislation comes into effect.

“This important amendment will no doubt result in less officers in hospital waiting rooms and more officers actively patrolling and working to keep our communities safe,” said Chief Supt. Rob Hill, officer in charge of criminal operations, Manitoba Royal Canadian Mounted Police.

The minister noted the province has already empowered Winnipeg Police Service cadets through the City of Winnipeg Charter to assist police officers.  Similar changes have been made to The Police Services Act to allow First Nation safety officers and community safety officers to assist police officers with this function.

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