Manitoba

Reid Bricker's mom partners with minister to improve mental health system

The mother of a Winnipeg man who has been missing for 45 days met with Manitoba’s health minister and other officials at the Legislative Building Tuesday to talk about possible changes to the province’s mental health system.

Bricker went missing in October after being discharged from Health Sciences Centre

Missing man's mom partners with minister to improve health care in Manitoba

7 years ago
Duration 2:05
The mother of a Winnipeg man who has been missing for 45 days met with Manitoba’s health minister and other officials at the Legislative Building Tuesday to talk about possible changes to the province’s mental health system.

The mother of a Winnipeg man who has been missing for 45 days met with Manitoba's health minister and other officials at the Legislative Building Tuesday to talk about possible changes to the province's mental health system.

Reid Bricker has been missing since October. He was released from the Health Sciences Centre at 3:20 a.m. on Oct. 24, where he had been admitted after several suicide attempts. His mother, Bonnie Bricker, no longer believes he's alive.

Bonnie Bricker stands 'shoulder to shoulder' in solidarity with Manitoba Health Minister Sharon Blady, a fellow mother who wants to improve mental health care in the province. (CBC)
Health Minister Sharon Blady held a roundtable meeting Tuesday to learn more about Reid's story and to involve powerful stakeholders in making necessary changes to improve care for others.

"I felt great encouragement from them that we're on the right track, that the things my family and I want to see changed ... these are things that can be done, and these people are willing to follow this journey and make it happen," Bonnie Bricker told CBC News after the meeting.

The meeting included representation and high-ranking officials from the Manitoba government, the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority (WRHA), the Canadian Mental Health Association, the Schizophrenia Society of Canada and others in the mental health awareness community.

Reid Bricker was last seen in downtown Winnipeg on Friday. Police are concerned for his well-being. (Courtesy Winnipeg Police Service)
"It [is] a really well-rounded group that [brings] both professional [and] lived experience to the table," said Blady.

"What was really nice to see is how we're really all on the same page about, 'How is it that we do a better job of looking after each other, looking after ourselves and our loved ones? How is it that we support each other and work together to make the system better?'"

Pushing for change

Bonnie Bricker has been pushing for change ever since her son's disappearance. She has hosted vigils and organized a fundraiser and art show to bring the community together and call for more support for those living with mental illness.

Bricker told Reid's story at the meeting and called for specific changes. In particular, Bricker said that families need to be part of the hospital discharge plan for vulnerable people; that more education should be given to patients and families at the person's discharge; and that emergency staff are included in any changes so that they can act within the Personal Health Information Act for vulnerable patients.

Bricker said she feels empowered by the partnership with Blady.

"She's shared her vulnerability and opened her heart to everyone to say, 'Hey listen, I'm you; we're together," said Bricker.

"I'm so elated to be in her company and to know that I have her to rely on as well. It's very comforting. She's truly committed to changing this."

Small changes first

At the meeting, which was not open to media, Blady designated WRHA CEO Milton Sussman as head of a task force that will continue to lead the group, focusing first on small changes and working toward systemic ones, such as directives for hospital staff.
Reid Bricker, 33, disappeared Saturday Oct. 24 following a discharge from a Winnipeg hospital at 3:20 a.m. (Facebook)

Blady says Bricker's passion in light of her tragedy inspires her.

"Sometimes you just meet someone and you know that this is going to be a good person to work with, and that we can accomplish a lot together and that's what I look forward to," said Blady.

"I can learn a lot from her as a minister and I can learn a lot from her as a mom.... It takes a lot of strength. I have a great deal of admiration and respect for her, for what she's doing; really, this is about what do we do as a legacy for Reid ... and I want to make him proud."

The same cause propels Bricker forward through her grief. She said her son literally vanished into the night, without a trace.

"He's gone. We're not going to find him. We have no leads," she said through tears. "We've asked downtown businesses to please look at their outside surveillance from Oct. 24, from 4 a.m. until 9 a.m.

"No one has responded and I'm very disappointed in all of them," she said, adding she hopes owners still look through their surveillance during that time for any sign of Bricker.

In the absence of answers, Bricker said she has memories.

"There's a lot of love wrapped around his last messages to us," said Bricker. "His legacy lives on in the work that we will accomplish and the success that we have."

The group is expected to meet again in January.

The family of missing man, Reid Bricker, is offering a $2,000 reward for information that directly leads to him being found. (CBC)

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