Header Side Menu Content Footer
Government of Manitoba
Family Services

The Vulnerable Persons Living with a Mental Disability Act

On October 4, 1996, The Vulnerable Persons Living with a Mental Disability Act came into force in Manitoba, replacing Part II of The Mental Health Act.
 
The Act promotes and protects the rights of adults living with a mental disability who need assistance to meet their basic needs. The legislation recognizes those Manitobans as "vulnerable persons".
 
The Vulnerable Persons Living with a Mental Disability Act reflects the right of all people to make their own decisions and have help, where necessary, in a manner that respects their independence, privacy and dignity.
 

What is supported decision making?

Just like other Manitobans, vulnerable persons have the right to make choices and decisions about their lives. Often, vulnerable persons will make their own decisions, without the advice or support of others.
 
There are times when we all ask others to help us with a decision. Vulnerable persons are no different. They may turn to their parents, other family members or friends to help them understand their choices. The members of this support network can provide information, ideas and advice that enable vulnerable persons to make their decisions. That is what supported decision making means -- vulnerable persons making their own decisions, with support and advice from family and friends, if desired.
 
Just like other Manitobans, vulnerable persons have the right to make choices and decisions about their lives.

What services are available to vulnerable persons under the Act?

Under the legislation, Manitoba Family Services may provide support services for vulnerable persons, within available program resources. Examples of support services include residential services, counseling, day services, vocational training and life-skills programs.
 
In general, existing services, service providers and community service workers remain in place for vulnerable persons.

How are services decided upon?

The Act states that an individual plan must be developed for every vulnerable person receiving support services. The plan identifies the person's strengths and needs, and sets out the support services that may be provided.
 
The planning process may involve a number of people. The vulnerable person, members of the support network and the substitute decision maker or committee, if any, will be invited to work with a community service worker to develop an individual plan.
 
If there are disputes about support services, provisions for mediation and appeal are available.


What is substitute decision making?

When a vulnerable person needs decisions to be made and is unable to make them, alone or with the help of a support network, then a substitute decision maker may be appointed.
 
Before a substitute decision maker is appointed, an application must be made to the Vulnerable Persons' Commissioner, an official appointed under the Act to protect the rights of vulnerable persons, and appoint and monitor substitute decision makers. If the criteria for appointment of a substitute decision maker appear to be met, a hearing panel will be appointed to consider the vulnerable person's needs and capabilities and make recommendations to the Commissioner regarding the appointment.
 
The vulnerable person, any substitute decision maker or committee, a close relative, other members of the support network, service providers and the community service worker will be invited to participate in the hearing.
 
An appointed substitute decision maker makes decisions only in areas where the vulnerable person cannot make them, and only for the period of time required to make the decision. The vulnerable person is still able to make all other decisions not granted to the substitute decision maker. The substitute decision maker's decisions must respect and encourage the participation and independence of the vulnerable person.
 
When a vulnerable person needs decisions to be made and is unable to make them ... then a substitute decision maker may be appointed as a last resort.

How does the Act protect vulnerable persons?

The legislation provides for the protection of vulnerable persons from abuse or neglect. By law, service providers, substitute decision makers and committees must report to Manitoba Family Services suspected abuse and/or neglect of the vulnerable persons they support. Other Manitobans are also encouraged to report such concerns.
 
All reports will be investigated promptly and, when appropriate, referred to the police. If abuse or neglect is found, immediate action will be taken to protect the vulnerable person. This may include providing support services or taking the person to a safe place.

What are the guiding principles of the Act?

The Act is based on the following beliefs:
 
  • Vulnerable persons are presumed able to make their own decisions on matters affecting their lives, unless they demonstrate otherwise.
  • Vulnerable persons should be encouraged to make their own decisions, with support if needed.
  • Like most people, vulnerable persons sometimes rely on the advice and assistance of support networks, which may include family members, friends, service providers and others they choose. The Act recognizes the important role support networks play and encourages their assistance with decision making, when necessary.
  • Assistance with decision making should respect the privacy and dignity of vulnerable persons.
  • Sometimes vulnerable persons are unable to make decisions about some aspects of their lives, even with the help of a support network. In such cases, when a vulnerable person needs decisions to be made and is unable to make them, a substitute decision maker may be appointed as a last resort.

Additional information:

For more information about The Vulnerable Persons Living with a Mental Disability Act contact your nearest regional office of Manitoba Family Services or the Office of the Vulnerable Persons' Commissioner:
 
Norman (204) 687-1700
Parkland (204) 622-2035
Thompson (204) 677-6570
Eastman (204) 268-6226
Interlake (204) 785-5158
Westman (204) 726-6173
        After Hours Emergency Service (204) 725-4411
Central
        Portage La Prairie (204) 239-3110
        Morden (204) 822-2861
Winnipeg (204) 945-1335
        After Hours Emergency Service (204) 945-0183
 
Office of the Vulnerable Persons' Commissioner
305 - 114 Garry Street
Winnipeg MB R3C 4V4
(204) 945-5039
Toll-free 1-800-757-9857 outside Winnipeg
 
Share This