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“Strongly Negative”: Liberals Call Out Pallister’s Risky Plan to Drive Experts from Manitoba Health

Manitoba will be the only province with no Mental Health or Addictions Branch in government if the Pallister Government goes ahead with a reorganization of Manitoba Health that will purge the department of experts in actually delivering health care, says Manitoba Liberal Leader and MLA for St. Boniface Dougald Lamont.

The plan to dismantle entire branches of Manitoba Health are laid out in a document obtained by the Liberals entitled, "Future State for Manitoba Health Seniors & Active Living" dated November 14, 2018.

The plan's future structure for Manitoba Health that has 4 divisions and 19 branches, none of which are specific "program branches" dedicated to specialized health care delivery.

Instead, program branches, including Mental Health and Addictions (MHA), will be scrapped and responsibility for "acute care, primary care, mental health, continuing care, public health" will be shifted to the newly created "Shared Health Services" - which isn't even up and running.

There are no outlines, job descriptions or timelines. The Liberals say this is a recipe for chaos and an abdication of responsibility for the health care system.

"If it goes through, the Minister of Health will be little more than a talking head, Manitoba Health will be paper-pushers and bean counters, and the PCs will be handing our entire health care system over to Shared Health Services, a new organization that isn't even defined yet," said Lamont.

The planned changes are markedly different than other plans laid out by KPMG in their Phase 1 and Phase 2 reports. Those reports presented a "preferred option" that would be achievable, but Lamont says the PCs are once again putting cuts first instead of making sure the job is done properly.

KPMG warned that the kind of changes the PCs are pursuing had "considerable risks associated with initiatives that move to this level of integration in a single step." On page 107, the report shows different ways to reorganize Manitoba's health care, but warns that the "implementation / transition risk" was "strongly negative."

Lamont said the PCs seem to be actively undermining their own agenda on Mental Health and Addictions. Aside from turning down hundreds of millions in mental health care from the federal government, the PCs will have no one to actually implement their much-touted Virgo Report.

"Whether it is health care, or health care reform, the guiding principle should be 'do no harm'" said Lamont, "what we're getting instead is a reckless focus on cuts, no matter the cost."

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