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What will be Manitoba's governance structure for mental health and addictions? Minister Goertzen won't say

Thursday June 21, I asked Minister of Health Kelvin Goertzen what he was planning for the governance structure for mental health and addictions?   My question and his response are below. 

Mr. Gerrard: The minister has recently tabled the VIRGO report. Among that–the recommendations is some discussion of a model for governance of mental health and addictions.
      I wonder if the minister could provide clarity on what his plans are with regard to the governance of mental health and addictions in Manitoba.
Mr. Goertzen: Sorry, I may have–thank you, Mr. Chairperson–may have missed the very first part of that question. I was being heckled from my own side, which sometimes happens in a parliamentary setting.
      I think he was asking, though, about the future of AFM or mental health governance.
Mr. Gerrard: Let me clarify.
      In the VIRGO report, which was brought forward by Dr. Rush, there is a specific discussion of the future of the governance of mental health and addictions province-wide.
      What is the vision that the minister has for the governance of mental health and addictions of province-wide?
Mr. Goertzen: I thank the member for the question.
      And I think for too long–and this was part of the impetus of the VIRGO report and our government's commitment on mental health and addiction, that they've–that these have worked in silos in the past. And I don't think that they were developed that way because people thought it was better for them to work in silos. But I think that there's been a lot of focus in the last 15, 20 years on mental health, a lot of good focus in terms of awareness–far less stigma associated with it, although there's more to do, of course, on that front.
      And I think there's a greater recognition that there's a correlation between mental health and addictions. I think I read somewhere there was 60  per cent or more than that of those who were dealing with a mental health issue had also–were either currently or had dealt with an addictions issue. So there's a strong correlation between the two.
      You know, I–we believe that the governance should happen through Shared Health. The exact method of that, I think, has yet to be determined. I would believe that addictions and mental health will be co-ordinated largely through Shared Health, but then delivered at a local level.
      I think I shared with the member before–or, maybe with another member in the House, maybe the member for Assiniboia (Mr. Fletcher), that when it comes to addictions, I think we need to look at different models.
      Certainly, government will always and should always play a role when it comes to the delivery of services in addictions, but I don't think we do enough to tap organizations who are invested and want to invest in doing more treatment, whether that day treatment or longer term treatment, when it comes to addictions.
      I recently was in Minnesota and had the opportunity to speak to some folks down there. I know that in the States, they have a good reputation when it comes to the delivery of addiction services. And, to a large extent, their standards exist within the statute in Minnesota, and they measure outcomes against that statute, and they commission services, some within government and many not within government, against that statute.
      And one of the challenges that I've found as Minister of Health on this particular part of the file is that we didn't have a method to–if we were commissioning out services, we didn't have a method to judge those who might be applying in to provide services from a non-profit perspective.
      And so I think we've essentially developed a method now to be able to–if we decided to do an RFP on certain services, to actually be able to measure that against a standard to ensure that the right service is being provided. And that didn't exist before, because I think the model of care was probably mostly government-centred, and I think we need to move beyond that.
Mr. Gerrard: Yes. I would take that a little bit further. In terms of what the minister envisions, is there going to be, you know, a single individual within Shared Health who's responsible? Is there going to be a committee? Is there going to be a board, or is there–you know, what structure is there going to be in terms of who is responsible for mental health and addictions?
      Will the minister be making at some point an announcement about who and what sort of organizational approach the–is going to be taken?
Mr. Goertzen: Yes.
Mr. Gerrard: That was one of the shortest answers I've had. Good, we will await that.


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