Health minister says changes will improve care, but jobs may be lost

WINNIPEG — The Manitoba government is planning major changes to how it administers health care and is promising they will lead to better results.

Under an omnibus bill introduced in the legislature, the Addictions Foundation of Manitoba would no longer be a stand-alone legal entity and would be absorbed by Shared Health.

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Shared Health would also take over operation of the Selkirk Mental Health Centre.

The moves would put addictions and mental-health services under one roof.

Policy and planning would be more centralized in the Health Department, while regional health authorities would focus on front-line delivery.

Health Minister Cameron Friesen says the result would be more streamlined health care with a more even standard provincewide.

Friesen says the proposed changes are not aimed at cutting costs, but there could be some disruption in jobs over the next few years.

The changes are based on three consultant reports the government had commissioned.

Friesen also says regional health authorities would have to sign accountability agreements with the government to set out performance goals and measurements.

He said there would be consequences of some sort — yet to be determined — to ensure the goals were met.

"There will be a variety of methods by which ... health authorities will be held accountable to do what they said they were going to do."

Opposition NDP Leader Wab Kinew said he's concerned the changes could take away decision-making power from people in health care.

"It's ... going to pave the way for more political interference coming directly from the premier's office and interfering with the care that the health authorities deliver."

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