What is a Substitute Decision Maker?

A substitute decision maker is an individual appointed by the Vulnerable Persons’ Commissioner to make decisions for a vulnerable person who is unable to make certain decisions for him or her self in the area of personal care or property or both. A substitute decision maker has the legal authority to make decisions for the vulnerable person in those specific areas in which he or she has been given power by the Commissioner. Therefore, the decision making authority of a substitute decision maker is limited to those areas where the vulnerable person is incapable and will be only for the specified period of time required (maximum of five years).

When can I apply for a substitute decision maker?

Any person may apply who believes an individual is in need of a substitute decision maker and where the following criteria are met:
 
Criteria:
 
  • The individual is a vulnerable person;
  • the individual has an involved support network;
  • the individual is incapable of managing his or her personal care and/or property on his or her own or with the involvement of his or her support network; and
  • there are decisions to be made.
 
The following are examples of situations where an applicant believed that a vulnerable person was in need of a substitute decision maker and submitted an application.
 
Example 1: The vulnerable person required surgery and the doctor did not believe the individual had the capacity to provide an informed consent for the surgery;
 
Example 2: A social worker believed that even with the assistance of the individual’s support network, the vulnerable person was not able to manage the more complex decisions related to the individual’s money.
 
An application may be made for an individual who is 17 years of age and who appears to meet the above criteria. However, the appointment of substitute decision maker can not take effect until the person turns 18.
 

Must a vulnerable person have a substitute decision maker?

 
No. If a vulnerable person is making his or her own decisions, alone or with the involvement of his or her support network, a substitute decision maker appointment is not required.
 
 

Who can be appointed as a substitute decision maker?

 
The Commissioner may appoint any adult, who consents to act as a substitute decision maker and who, in the opinion of the Commissioner,
 
  • is apparently capable, suitable and able to act as the substitute decision maker, and
  • will not be in a position where his or her interests conflict with the vulnerable person’s interests.
 
Proposing a substitute decision maker is a very important decision and one should familiarize themselves with the duties and responsibilities of a substitute decision maker.
 
Service providers may not be appointed as substitute decision makers for the vulnerable person for whom they provide service.
 
If a substitute decision maker is required for a vulnerable person and there is no one who meets the above eligibility requirements, The Public Guardian and Trustee will be appointed as the substitute decision maker. Learn more about the Office of the Public Guardian and Trustee.
 

Can more than one substitute decision maker be appointed?

 
Yes, there are three different variations of appointments that can be considered when proposing either one or more persons to be appointed to act as a substitute decision maker:  
 
  1. Sole substitute decision maker:
    The applicant can propose one person to be appointed to act as the substitute decision maker for the individual in the area of personal care and/or in the area of property. This means that there may be one person proposed to be a substitute decision maker in both areas of personal care and property, or there may be one person proposed as substitute decision maker for personal care and a different person as substitute decision maker for property. 

    If applying to act in the area of property, the proposed sole substitute decision maker must reside in Manitoba.
  2. Joint substitute decision maker:
    The applicant can propose two or more persons to be appointed to act as joint substitute decision makers in one or both areas of personal care and property. A joint appointment requires the parties to act together in their roles as substitute decision makers. One cannot make decisions independent of the other. In the event of the death of one of the joint substitute decision makers the other substitute decision maker will continue on in his or her role as substitute decision maker.

    If applying to act in the area of property, one of the proposed joint substitute decision makers must reside in Manitoba.
  3. Alternate substitute decision maker:
    The application can propose the appointment of an alternate substitute decision maker to act on the death of, or in the temporary absence of, the sole or joint substitute decision makers.
All proposed substitute decision makers must consent to the appointment by completing Schedule B – Consent Form for Consideration of Appointment as Substitute Decision Maker and must submit a Criminal Record Check, Child Abuse Registry Check and Adult Abuse Registry Check (see Schedule C for more details).
 
If applying to act in the area of property, there may also be a requirement for the substitute decision maker to post a bond with or without surety equal to the amount of the sworn value of the property to be managed by the substitute decision maker. This will be determined by the Commissioner at the time of the appointment. For more information see the Guidelines, Policies and Procedures on Bonds and Sureties for Substitute Decision Makers for Property and A Fact Sheet on Substitute Decision Making.
 
 

What type of decisions can a substitute decision maker make?

 
A substitute decision maker is given the authority to make only those decisions that are currently before the vulnerable person and that the vulnerable person is unable to make on his/her own or with the assistance of his/her support network.
 
The powers that may be granted by the Commissioner are divided into two major areas – personal care and property. An applicant can propose that a substitute decision maker be appointed for the management of the vulnerable person's personal care, property, or both personal care and property.

 

1) Personal Care

Some of the powers that may be granted to the substitute decision maker for personal care are:

  • to make decisions regarding the vulnerable person's living arrangements;
  • to make health care decisions on the vulnerable person's behalf;
  • to make decisions regarding the vulnerable person's work arrangements;
  • to make decisions regarding the vulnerable person's participation in educational or life skills training;
  • to make decisions regarding the vulnerable person's participation in social or recreational activities; and
  • to make decisions about daily living activities on behalf of the vulnerable person.
 

2) Property

 
Some of the powers that may be granted to the substitute decision maker for property are:
 
  • to purchase, sell, dispose of or transfer personal belongings on behalf of the vulnerable person;
  • to receive, deposit and invest money on behalf of the vulnerable person;
  • to pay bills on the vulnerable person's behalf; and
  • to apply for any benefits for which the vulnerable person may be eligible.

 

For more information and a full list of the powers that may be granted see pages 7, 8 and 9 of the Guide to Completing a Substitute Decision Maker Application.