News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

July 26, 2023

Manitoba Government Responds to Office of the Auditor General Reports, Announces New Independent Office of the Legislative Assembly

Watch news conference

Justice Minister and Government House Leader Kelvin Goertzen today responded to three reports of the Office of the Auditor General (OAG) announcing significant measures the Manitoba government is taking to address recommendations made by the independent office of the legislative assembly.

“On behalf of the Manitoba government, I would like to thank the OAG for its work on these three important topics,” said Goertzen.

The OAG’s independent investigative reports addressed three topics: Addictions Treatment Services in Manitoba, Efficiency of Court Services for the Provincial Court of Manitoba and the Investigation of the Protection for Persons in Care Office.

In conjunction with the OAG audit report of Addictions Treatment Services in Manitoba conducted from July 2021 to June 2022, the Manitoba government has made key investments and progress in developing a comprehensive, recovery-oriented system of addictions care, and improving the accessibility, capacity and quality of services throughout the province.

Goertzen noted the audit period coincides with the creation of the new Department of Mental Health and Community Wellness (MHCW) and the launch of the department’s five-year plan, A Pathway to Mental Health and Community Wellness: A Roadmap for Manitoba to enhance mental health and addictions services, which identified many of the same concerns as the OAG audit findings.

“MHCW has made significant progress on the implementation of the roadmap and the associated audit recommendations since the conclusion of the audit in June 2022,” said Goertzen. “Since this time, MHCW has partially or fully addressed all of the 15 audit recommendations.”

Some of the structural changes and key investments that have been made to reduce system barriers and improve quality and accountability include:

  • developing substance use and addictions system standards to ensure safety, quality of care and consumer protection;
  • developing an accountability framework, including targets for improving services;
  • introducing Bill 33 to license addictions treatment facilities to ensure quality and consistency of care;
  • developing and upcoming launch of a mental health and addictions system navigation portal to enhance access and service navigation;
  • expanding opiate agonist treatment (OAT) in the Interlake region Rapid Access to Addictions Medicine (RAAM) clinic to ensure that a minimum of 100 additional OAT patients receive community-based care;
  • increasing access to mobile outreach services for individuals who are homeless and are impacted by mental illness and/or addiction;
  • expanding services by increasing hours and adding staff at RAAM clinics across Manitoba;
  • investing in a new Indigenous-led RAAM clinic at the Aboriginal Health and Wellness Centre in Winnipeg; and
  • investing a historic $8.7 million in opening 1,648 publicly funded treatment spaces throughout the province to ensure Manitobans, regardless of financial situations, have the opportunity to recover and build better lives.

“We are proud of the dedicated work we are doing and the investments we are making to support the treatment and long-term recovery of individuals with substance use and addictions challenges,” said Goertzen. “MHCW continues to work in partnership with service delivery partners to ensure Manitobans have access to appropriate supports and treatment services when they need them.”

Goertzen noted the audit scope included services delivered by Shared Health, Prairie Mountain Health, Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Northern Health Authority. The audit did not include services offered by Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority, Southern Health-Santé Sud, publicly funded community agencies, private providers, the federal government or First Nations communities.

“The narrow scope of the audit limits the efficacy of applying its findings to the entire addictions treatment system,” said Goertzen. “Therefore, caution should be exercised in making and interpreting statements on entities that were not included in the scope of the audit.”

The Department of Justice is already taking steps to address the recommendations contained in the OAG report on the Efficiency of Court Services for the Provincial Court of Manitoba, Goertzen noted.

“We understand our duty to deliver timely access to the justice system despite the many logistical challenges of operating a court system throughout northern Manitoba,” said Goertzen. “Since the spring of 2023, we’ve implemented the Integrated Case Management program, which will modernize the courts and reduce manual processes. Thirty-seven virtual courtrooms are currently in operation including in Thompson, Dauphin, The Pas and Flin Flon. We are also providing over $100,000 from the Criminal Property Forfeiture Fund to Manitoba Keewatinowi Okimakanak (MKO) to support the operation of nine business model Starlink systems to connect nine remote First Nations communities and the MKO Youth Healing Lodge with high-speed internet access.”

The minister noted not only will the new Starlink systems provide secure internet access to facilitate virtual court appearances, but the satellite-based connection will also enable residents living in these northern communities to connect to online training, education, victim services, and other online programming.

Further to the serious and systematic issues included in the OAG report on the Investigation of the Protection for Persons in Care Office (PPCO), the Manitoba government is launching significant and transformative changes to how it responds to allegations of abuse and neglect.

“The PPCO has failed in its responsibility to protect some of Manitoba’s most vulnerable people, including those who live in personal care homes,” said Goertzen. “This OAG report highlights longstanding and serious problems that have existed within the oversight, leadership, investigative policies, and legislation governing the PPCO for over a decade. This is unacceptable. We are taking decisive action to address the shortcomings of the PPCO, while moving forward with a new foundation built on legislative changes, greater independence and accountability.”

The Manitoba government accepts all of the recommendations in the report and will take steps that go even further than those recommended by the OAG, Goertzen said Work will begin immediately to replace the PPCO with a new, independent investigation office that will report directly to the legislative assembly, similar to the Manitoba Ombudsman. The new office will provide greater accountability and transparency to members of the public, with full powers of investigation and reporting. Following a period of transition, the PPCO will be disbanded.

William Burnett, former justice on the Manitoba Court of King’s Bench and Court of Appeal, has agreed to assume the role of special commissioner to guide the creation of the new independent office of the legislature over the next 18 to 24 months including considering the relationship of the new office to the adult abuse registry system.

The Manitoba government will also launch a deeper examination of past files handled by the PPCO. This work will be led by attorney Kimberley Gilson, who as the investigative lead, will be responsible for developing the scope of the review and assembling the necessary team and resources to conduct the investigation.

Over the next two years, $2 million will facilitate the work of the special commissioner and the investigation of past files including ongoing efforts to reduce the backlog of investigations.

This work builds upon key changes and actions taken over the past year to correct the work of the PPCO and how it functions to protect people in care including:

  • improving and strengthening policies, standards and educational materials within the PPCO;
  • passing Bill 23, which, when proclaimed, will make changes to the Protection for Persons in Care Act that broaden and clarify the definitions of abuse and neglect that are used to direct investigations; and
  • reducing the backlog of investigations, with current matters expected to be largely complete by March 2024.

“To the residents, clients and families impacted, I deeply regret how this affected you,” said Goertzen. “We know we must do better. We want you to know we are taking immediate and decisive action to correct these longstanding problems by implementing the first substantive changes in this area in over 20 years and creating a stronger, more accountable, independent investigation office.”

The PPCO was established in 2001 to protect Manitobans living in personal care homes, hospitals and other designated facilities against abuse or neglect. The Manitoba government will provide progress updates on the OAG recommendations and other transformational work underway to ensure the protection for persons in care at

A dedicated response line and email has been established to address questions Manitobans may have about an allegation they have reported or want to have addressed. The phone number is 204-788-6366 and the email is

- 30 -




Backgrounder -