Bonnie Bricker speaks out at mental health forum in Winnipeg
Patients, advocates and political candidates take part in community mental health forum Thursday
Mental health advocate Bonnie Bricker wants Manitobans to look for "doers" when they head to the polls on April 19.
Bricker says it's been 172 days since her son went 'missing'- wants commitment from next government to improve mental health care <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cbcmb?src=hash">#cbcmb</a>—@BrohmanCBC
Thursday's community mental health political forum took place at the Berney Theatre. It was attended by Liberal candidate and physician Jon Gerrard, NDP candidate and Health Minister Sharon Blady and Progressive Conservative candidate and opposition health critic, Myrna Driedger.
Manitoba has a long way to go to providing adequate care for people with mental health issues, said Bricker.
She described it as "a road that we've barely put one foot on" and said it was important to hear where the three candidates stood on the issue because no matter what government is elected, it's likely either Blady, Gerrard, or Driedger would become Manitoba's next health minister.
If voters want to see progress on mental health they should look for candidates who offer more than "lofty words," she said.
"They should be looking for somebody who has got an accountable past, somebody who has a proven track record of advocating for a particular issue and having success," advised Bricker.
Candidates debate mental health
During Thursday's forum, the NDP's Sharon Blady said mental health is both a political and personal issue for her. The health minister said her lived experience informs her policy decisions.
"One in four, I am one of those people. I live daily with a mood disorder. I know what suicide ideation is and does," said Blady.
Blady apologizes for any shortcomings in providing answers to Ronald Wilderman's family. 'That is unacceptable. We need to do more.' <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cbcmb?src=hash">#cbcmb</a>—@BrohmanCBC
Elizabeth Rosenberg, the sister of Ronald Wilderman, a 57-year-old autistic man who died in the care of a company hired by Winnipeg's health authority challenged Blady and asked why she should vote for the NDP.
Blady apologized for Wilderman's care and Rosenberg's family's experiences following. "That is unacceptable. We need to do more," said Blady.
Gerrard says NDP government doesn't understand basics of what is necessary for brain health. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cbcmb?src=hash">#cbcmb</a>—@BrohmanCBC
"It begins with leadership who understand some of the basics of brain health and of mental health. I believe that understanding how important nutrition and exercise and sunlight and these factors are is a really important starting point," said Gerrard, adding that his party is excited to bring psychological services under Medicare.
Myrna Driedger said under a Progressive Conservative government front-line workers would be better utilized to assist mental health patients coming into hospitals and clinics.
"They would certainly like to see more support from government," she said.
The PC candidate added government is not the only problem solver when it comes to this issue. Many non-profits, she said, in Manitoba are doing "amazing" work in the field of mental health.
Driedger says as a former nurse and nurse supervisor, improving mental health access & community supports a major priority for her <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cbcmb?src=hash">#cbcmb</a>—@BrohmanCBC
with files from Erin Brohman