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Making Mental Health Care Free Under Medicare

Updated: Sep 9, 2023

New Standards and Rapid-Access Addictions Care Services 

Treaty 1 Territory, Homeland of the Red River Métis, Winnipeg, MB -

Manitoba Liberals unveiled their plan to build a new mental health system in Manitoba by covering psychotherapy under Medicare, investing in training to boost the numbers of qualified and registered therapists to address shortages, and ensuring better access to addictions services.

Manitoba Liberal Party leader Dougald Lamont said chronic underfunding of community supports for mental health in Manitoba means many vulnerable people do not have proper access to the resources they need to better themselves. Manitoba has had serious shortages of psychologists and psychological nurses. Manitoba ranks last in Canada in providing psychologists per capita.

“Manitoba Liberals are committed to making mental health care part of our provincial health care system, by making regulated psychotherapy part of Medicare,” said Lamont. “This means, instead of having to go into your pocket to pay for therapy for you, your child, or loved one, it would be covered through your provincial health plan. So for every Manitoban – whether you’re in a private sector job or the public sector, will get coverage. Mental health is health care, and no one should go without.”

Manitobans struggling with addictions have faced inaccessible services, long wait times for access, and a general lack of information on available treatment options, as found in a recent 2023 Auditor General report on Addictions Treatment Services in Manitoba. 

Manitoba Liberals commit to: 

  • To make mental health care universally available, Manitoba Liberals will make it part of Medicare and cover the costs of regulated psychotherapy. Patients would be able to see a registered psychologist free of charge.

  • Investing in the U of Manitoba Department of Psychology and other post-secondary institutions to expand training, including a new Psy.D program as well as mental health training in community through remote learning.

  • In order to ensure that people seeking help can always find it, we will fund a 24/7 referral line for addictions treatment. It is critical to ensure that people who want help for detox can get it within the window of time they need it.

  • Support organizations that run overdose prevention centres – including mobile units - to ensure people with addictions can receive treatment, counselling and timely mental health services focusing on prevention, treatment and recovery.

  • Cover burnout and mental injuries for workers under the Workers’ Compensation Board.

Lamont said investments in mental health care are preventive. The lack of proper mental health services in Manitoba results in people going untreated, resulting in crisis costs in health care. According to the Manitoba Psychological Society, there is the potential to save between 20-30% of total healthcare costs by investing in psychological health care. Numerous studies have estimated $2 of savings for every $1 invested in expanding Medicare coverage for psychological services.   “People should know there is hope for healing, and we have a responsibility to care for the whole person. Mental health is health care, and that’s why Manitoba Liberals want to make it part of Medicare in Manitoba,” said Lamont. “That is a real choice for real change in mental health care.”

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