Manitoba looks to fund treatment facility for severe addiction

The Manitoba government is looking for a treatment facility that can handle people with severe addiction and mental health disorders.

For years, those approved for treatment would have to leave the province

A stock photo shows a woman speaking with a therapist.
A Manitoba-based treatment centre would give clients greater access to long-term followup, closer to home, says Health Minister Cameron Friesen. (BlurryMe/Shutterstock)

The Manitoba government is looking for a treatment facility that can handle people with severe addiction and mental health disorders.

"For years, those approved for treatment for severe addiction and mental health disorders would have to leave the province to receive these services," said Health Minister Cameron Friesen in a press release.

The government will issue a request for proposals later this month to find a residential addictions facility within Manitoba that can provide services here, he said.

From 2013 to 2017, funding for out-of-province treatment was provided to 39 Manitobans diagnosed with severe addiction and mental health disorders, such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety and depression, said the news release from the province.

The tendering process will help determine the eventual value of the contract, the news release stated, adding it is expected the costs per client could be substantially less than sending people to out-of-province facilities.

Friesen said it's a six-figure price tag to send those in the throes of addiction elsewhere when Manitoba's support agencies are not enough. 

Flight tickets scrapped

He believes the government may save money because "we won't be sending and paying for airline tickets to send people out of province and reinvest that amount in capacity here at home," he told reporters at the Manitoba Legislature.

The amount of beds would be determined through the RFP process, Friesen said.

When asked if the planned Bruce Oake Recovery Centre adheres to the necessary parameters, Friesen said it is the type of facility that may want to apply.

The addictions-treatment centre proposed for west Winnipeg's Crestview neighbourhood may want to apply for the government contract, health minister Cameron Friesen said. (Gary Soliak/CBC)

"I won't start listing the facilities' names, but we know that there are groups out there with expertise in addictions treatment."

The minister said the tender will close 30 days after posting, with the awarding of the contract expected shortly after that.

The province is entering this process to meet a recommendation in Manitoba's new strategy for mental health and addictions services, referred to as the Virgo report.

In the past 10 weeks, four Rapid Access to Addictions Medicine (RAAM) clinics have opened and treated more than 250 patients in Winnipeg, Thompson and Brandon, with a fifth location opening soon in Selkirk, Friesen said.

And six new mental health beds were also opened earlier this year at Winnipeg's Health Science Centre, while a dozen additional women's addiction treatment beds were opened at the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba's Portage Avenue centre in Winnipeg.

With files from Ian Froese