Winnipeg, MB — Party Leader James Beddome announced that if elected, Greens would commit 10 per cent of the health budget to mental health and addictions.

“More than one in four Manitobans experience a mental illness, substance abuse or addiction,” said Beddome. “Our platform offers significant funding investments in support of a system that under all previous governments has been indefensibly underfunded.”

Party Leader James Beddome with candidates Martha Jo Willard (Notre Dame) and Nic Geddert (Elmwood)

Beddome said that wait times for community mental health services is weeks if not months, and Manitobans can wait two years or more for specialized counselling services, according to a 2018 provincial strategy document. The document also shows that wait times for addictions residential treatment were as high as 168 days for women and as high as 90 days for men. According to a document obtained through FIPPA, as of June 2019, there were 336 people on the waitlist to see a psychiatrist in Manitoba. The document shows that 248 of those people did not even have appointments scheduled yet.

“Those kinds of wait times are unacceptable. It is crucial to address the length of time Manitobans are waiting for mental health and addictions services and to increase the options available for Manitobans,” said Beddome. 

The Greens’ combined platform on mental health and addictions includes several policies specifically geared towards addressing the meth crisis, including establishing and enhancing harm reduction programs and increasing residential addiction treatment beds. They also plan to establish funding for clinical psychology as an insured service under the provincial government, and increase the availability of telehealth and other technologies for rural and northern communities.

With respect to funding, Beddome said that under the federal health accord, Manitoba is set to receive an average of $40 million per year for the next ten years for homecare and mental health, which Greens would utilize to fund some of the above initiatives. He added that unlike the current government, the Greens would act immediately to utilize any federal funding received.

“We believe this platform will ignite hope for individuals, families and communities that are impacted by mental health problems and addictions,” said Beddome. “Our platform commits to giving every Manitoban affected by these issues the supports they need to recover and lead meaningful lives. It commits to action — now — that will contribute to a stronger, healthier, and more vibrant Manitoba.”