The Pallister government has added six treatment beds for people in mental health distress, which should alleviate pressures on emergency rooms.
"We have seen a high number of mental health-related hospital admissions during the (COVID-19) pandemic," Mental Health, Wellness and Recovery Minister Audrey Gordon told reporters Friday.
The province is spending $500,000 this year to add six crisis beds and extra staff to the Crisis Response Centre's intervention program, which the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority runs at 755 Portage Ave.
The new beds would mean helping about 45 people each month.
"We will be able to help more individuals experiencing a mental health crisis in a timely manner," Gordon said.
Dr. James Bolton, medical director of Shared Health’s crisis response services, said the beds help people in psychiatric or psychosocial crisis, who can participate in classes and meet with loved ones as they recover, instead of ending up in hospital.
"This is good news for all Manitobans," Bolton said, particularly as the units can take in people at all hours.
"People in crisis can access these supports right when they need them, helping to free up resources in our emergency departments where individuals in crisis often present themselves."
NDP mental health critic Bernadette Smith said the funding will help, but it doesn’t make up for health-care cuts.
"We know that the pandemic has dramatically increased the need for crisis supports, but as always with this PC government it’s too little, too late," she wrote.
The funding will first support virtual programming, until the physical beds are put into place by Aug. 16, as part of the province's pandemic reopening plan.