OPINION: Manitoba Advocate’s Statement of Concern is an Indictment of Pallister’s Failure to Act on Children’s Mental Health & Addictions


Submitted by the Manitoba Liberal Party and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the Manitoba Post

The Manitoba Advocate’s statement of concern is an indictment of the Pallister government’s failure to act on the mental health of children in Manitoba.

It is worth emphasizing some of the most serious charges made :

  • Six months after the release of the Virgo report on Mental Health and addictions, the Pallister government has “no concrete plan of action for youth mental health and addiction.”
  • The Virgo report also had a major gap – aside from deleting a recommendation to medically supervised sites, and no mention of methamphetamine, the Virgo report does not address the 143 Manitoban youth who have died by suicide in the last ten years. Eight committed suicide in August 2018.
  • There are many problems with the Pallister government’s approach. The report notes that this is not a new problem. It was a problem under the previous NDP government as well.

    The Virgo report itself recognized what has long been true: “systems are underfunded, the resources are spread too thin, and prevention focused efforts are often overshadowed by the ever-growing need for crisis interventions.”

    The PC government is doing virtually nothing in the face of a growing crisis. They have twice cut funding to the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba, and the money they provided was to fund ways to find more cuts. The addictions quick care clinics they opened are only open ten hours a week.

    In Portage la Prairie, at the youth residential addictions treatment centre, staff are being laid off. There are many patients who desperately need treatment, but they are being disqualified and shut out by a bureaucratic “purity test” which rules out treating any child who has physical, medical or psychological needs beyond the program’s capacity or who may be involved with the justice system or CFS.

    I have said that Manitoba does not have a mental health system at all, especially for young people.

    Ultimately, this should not be a partisan issue. The federal government has provided the province with millions of dollars in extra funding, specifically for mental health.

    There are no excuses to justify the PCs inaction. The government has plans, and resources. This is about saving children’s lives.