News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

December 23, 2019


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All-of-Government Approach Improving Services and Programming That Had Become Antiquated Under Former Government: Friesen

The Manitoba government continued to make improvements to mental health and addictions services in 2019, including a $25-million-plus boost in the year’s final three months toward new or enhanced programming, Health, Seniors and Active Living Minister Cameron Friesen announced today.

“We have worked tirelessly since 2016 to improve access to services so Manitobans struggling with mental health and addictions can get the help they need,” said Friesen.  “With our government’s re-election earlier this year, we have accelerated those efforts to move our province forward and ensure more Manitobans get the help they need to live better lives.”

Fourteen new initiatives were announced this fall that were based on recommendations from a variety of reports including VIRGO, the Illicit Drug Task Force, and the Community Wellness and Public Safety Alliance.  The initiatives also incorporate the government’s Safer Streets, Safer Lives Action Plan, which focuses on pillars of treatment, enforcement and education.

Initiatives already announced include:
•    enhancing access to school-based mental health and addictions supports by expanding existing school-based clinical teams with psychiatric nurses and addictions support workers;
•    expanding walk-in mental health services and specialized trauma counselling at Klinic Community Health Centre and the Laurel Centre;
•    moving forward with plans to add 100 supportive recovery housing beds to help Manitobans who have received addictions treatment successfully transition back into the community;
•    implementing the Métis CART pilot project, which will provide support for at-risk families with support teams that include a caseworker, family mentor and addictions and mental health workers; and
•    enhancing access to mental health assessments and treatment for children and youth through HSC Children’s Hospital.

Some initiatives announced in the fall are already in place.  At the NorWest Youth Hub, for instance, new staff have been hired to provide clients with additional counselling and psychologist appointments, primary care visits and mental health support group sessions.

Friesen noted several other initiatives are expected to be formally implemented early in 2020 including the expansion of StreetReach programming in Thompson, new investments in the Project 11 program established by the True North Youth Foundation and the expansion of Thrival Kits, which incorporates positive mental health practices into school lesson plans.
The fall announcements follow a robust slate of initiatives brought forward earlier in the year to improve services that became antiquated and difficult to access under the former government, the minister said.  Initiatives include:
•    increased supports for Rapid Access to Addictions Medicine (RAAM) clinics, which to date have helped more than 2,000 Manitobans suffering from substance-use addiction in only 15 months;
•    sixteen new residential treatment beds for women, with 12 located within the 28-day program at the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba’s Portage Avenue campus and four at the Behavioural Health Foundation;
•    a partnership with Bell Let’s Talk to offer programming online and over the phone for families with mild to moderate mental health issues through the Strongest Families Institute;
•    the opening of 11 flexible-length withdrawal beds, suitable for patients who are addicted to dangerous drugs like methamphetamine, in Winnipeg and Brandon; and
•    partnering with the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Manitoba to increase training for prescribers who can administer opiate replacement therapy.

“These initiatives continue to reflect our unwavering commitment to repairing mental health and addictions left untended for years by the former government,” said Friesen.  “We know there is more to do.  We have shown we are up to that challenge and will continue to roll out initiatives in the new year that help Manitobans, their families and communities.”

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