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Conservatives copy Manitoba Liberals mental health bill - two years later

Yesterday (December 4), the Pallister Conservatives introduced a bill to make changes so that health professionals can more easily contact family members or members of a persons circle of care in order to provide help and prevent suicides and other potential harms to individuals.  This bill copies legislation introduced by the Manitoba Liberals two years ago.  It has meant a two year delay in getting this important approach implemented.  Judy Klassen introduced the Liberal bill on November 30, 2016 just over two years ago. Judy Klassen's introduction of the bill is below.  It is worth noting that the Conservatives voted against this bill at second reading.   Yesterday, after second thought, they are introducing a bill which is very similar to what Judy Klassen introduced two years ago.   I am pleased that the Conservatives have learned from the Liberals but sorry that it took two years, during which time an unknown number of people have suffered because this legislation was not in place. 

Nov. 30, 2016: Bill 209–The Mental Health Amendment and Personal Health Information Amendment Act

Ms. Judy Klassen (Kewatinook): I move, seconded by the member for River Heights (Mr. Gerrard), that Bill 209, The Mental Health Amendment and Personal Health Information Amendment Act, be now read a first time.
Motion presented.
Ms. Klassen: When a person is hospitalized for an injury, a heart attack or a stroke, health-care professionals contact that person's circle of care, whether they be family or friends. Yet there is uncertainty to make that contact when it is a mental illness, suicide attempt or drug overdose due to the language used in our Personal Health Information Act and our Mental Health Act.
      Madam Speaker, Bill 209 would see that language clarified so that circles of care may be notified in the case of mental or brain health issues when compelling health or safety circumstances exist.
Madam Speaker: Is it the pleasure of the House to adopt the motion? [Agreed]

Background to the Manitoba Liberal Party Bill 209:

2008:  Manitoba Liberals became aware of an individual with depression who was suicidal who presented to an Emergency Room because he was depressed and suicidal.  He was sent home with a bus pass.  Within days he committed suicide.   This brought to the Manitoba Liberals attention the need for changes to the way individuals who are suicidal need to be treated when they present to an Emergency Room.  This led to the development of Bill 230 The Mental Health Bill of Rights. 

The Liberal bill included the UN convention's recommendations that individuals with mental illnesses should be given equal treatment under the law and the right to have family members or a circle of friends supportive of their decision making. The convention also includes the right to health, right to work, right to live in the community, right to an adequate standard of living, all of which are addressed in the Liberal bill.  Sadly, the NDP government of the day rejected this bill.

October 24, 2015:  Reid Bricker, who was suicidal presented for care and was sent home without the family being notified.   Bonnie and George Bricker push for changes to legislation to ensure health professionals are able to notify family in such circumstances before a person is discharged so that such suicides can be prevented.

2016: Following the provincial election of 2011, in which brain and mental health was a significant issue, the Manitoba Liberal Caucus entered into extensive consultations with regard to brain and mental health.   These consultations led to the release, in the fall of 2016, of the Manitoba Liberal Party report "Optimal Brain Health for All Manitobans" which is available at this link - 
The report included the Recommendation 37 which read "The Working Group on Optimal Brain Health make recommendations for the optimum approach available in Manitoba for creating effective networks of support to assist those with brain health issues.   These recommendations need to include changes to the Mental Health Act to make it easier for health professionals to share information with family members and possibly with other members of the person's circle of support."  It was this recommendation which led to Bill 209.


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