Information for Adults with Intellectual Disabilities

What is The Vulnerable Persons Living with a Mental Disability Act?

The Vulnerable Persons Living with a Mental Disability Act (sometimes called the Vulnerable Persons Act or VPA), is a provincial law.  The law allows the government to provide services to adults with intellectual disabilities.  It also says how adults with intellectual disabilities are able to make decisions.  In some cases, the law lets the government appoint a substitute decision maker.  The substitute decision maker is legally allowed to make decisions on behalf of an adult with an intellectual disability.

 

What is the role of the Vulnerable Persons’ Commissioner?

The Vulnerable Persons’ Commissioner is the person who gets to make the decision about whether or not to name a substitute decision maker.  This is always a last resort.  The Office of the Vulnerable Persons’ Commissioner receives all the applications to name substitute decision makers.  They also make sure that substitute decision makers are doing what the law says they should.

 

How can I contact the Office of the Vulnerable Persons’ Commissioner?

See our Contact Us

 

What are my rights?

The law recognizes principles about adults with intellectual disabilities.  One of those principles is that adults with intellectual disabilities are presumed to be able to make their own decisions.

Adults with intellectual disabilities have the same rights as other adults: the right to justice, the right to legal representation, and others.

The appointment of a substitute decision maker does not take away all your rights.  A substitute decision maker is able to make certain decisions on your behalf in specific situations.  However, they should talk to you about what they are doing and see what you think is best.  Their appointment also needs to be renewed and reviewed every few years. 

If you think your rights are not being respected, you can begin by contacting your service agency, or your Community Service Worker.  If you have concerns about your substitute decision maker, you can contact the Office of the Vulnerable Persons’ Commissioner.  If you have concerns about abuse, you can contact the Department of Families Abuse Investigations Unit.

 

What is a substitute decision maker?

A substitute decision maker is someone that gets put in place to make decisions on behalf of an adult with an intellectual disability. This can happen if a person is not able to make decisions on their own. It can also happen if a person does not understand what would happen because of a decision they made. 

A substitute decision maker has the legal power to make decisions. When they make decisions, it is treated the same as if the adult with an intellectual disability made the decision themselves. 

 

What decisions can a substitute decision maker make?

Each substitute decision maker has different decisions to make depending on the situation.  Sometimes, a person is named a substitute decision maker for personal decisions like whether to see a doctor, where someone lives, or where they work. Other times, a person is named a substitute decision maker for property, which includes things like bank accounts. The same person can be named a substitute decision maker for both personal care and property. 

 

Who decides whether someone needs a substitute decision maker?

The government has someone called the Vulnerable Persons’ Commissioner. That person gets all the applications for substitute decision makers. The Commissioner makes the final decision about whether a substitute decision maker is named.

 

Do I need a substitute decision maker?

 It depends. Substitute decision makers should be a last resort. A substitute decision maker should only be named for you if you are not able to understand information, or you are not able to understand what will happen because of a decision you made. On top of that, a substitute decision maker should only be named if there is an actual decision that needs to be made.

 

What if I don’t agree that I need a substitute decision maker?

The decision to name a substitute decision maker follows a few steps:

  • An application is submitted
  • The Commissioner’s Office reviews it
  • If the application meets the requirements of the law, it may go to a hearing
  • A hearing may be held
  • The Commissioner makes a decision to appoint

If an application is made about you, you are encouraged to share your views on whether a substitute decision maker is needed. You can share your views when an application is made, or during a hearing panel.

If you or someone else believes that a substitute decision maker should not be appointed, it is possible to appeal the decision in court.  See “Appealing the Decision” for more detail.

If a substitute decision maker is not doing what the law says, a person can apply for a “termination and replacement.”  This means the Vulnerable Persons’ Commissioner removes the appointment and names someone else. 

 

How does the Commissioner decide whether a Substitute Decision Maker is needed?

The Vulnerable Persons’ Commissioner follows the requirements in the law.  In order to name a substitute decision maker, some things have to be true:

  • The person has to be a ‘vulnerable’ person according to the law.  This means they are a person who had an intellectual disability before the age of 18.
  • The person is not able to manage the decisions they need to make, even with the help of their friends and family
  • The person is not able to understand information they need to make a decision
  • The person is not able to understand the consequences of their decisions
  • A decision needs to be made
  • There are no other options for making the decision

If all of the above points are true, the Commissioner may name a substitute decision maker. 

 

Does my substitute decision maker need to check with me?

When making a decision on your behalf, your substitute decision maker will ideally check with you. Sometimes they might need to make a decision quickly, and might not have time. But most of the time, they should talk to you to find out what you want, and what you think is best.

Substitute decision making is covered under The Vulnerable Persons Living with a Mental Disability Act.  That act has a list of principles.  Most of those principles talk about how adults with intellectual disabilities should be helped to make their own decisions as much as possible.

 

My substitute decision maker is the Public Guardian and Trustee. How do I contact them?

If your substitute decision maker is the Public Guardian and Trustee, you can start by talking to your Community Service Worker. The Public Guardian and Trustee often has an agreement in place that lets Community Service Workers make day-to-day decisions.

If you want to contact your Adult Service Administrator at the Public Guardian and Trustee’s Office, please find contact information here

 

Is there a way for me to end a substitute decision maker appointment?

If you or someone in your life believes you do not need a substitute decision maker, they can apply for a termination and/or replacement with the Office of the Vulnerable Persons’ Commissioner. To learn more about termination and replacement, please see the information here.

 

What if I disagree with my substitute decision maker?

Sometimes you might not agree with a decision your substitute decision maker made for you. You should know that the substitute decision maker is legally allowed to make decisions on your behalf, even if you don’t always agree. The first step is to talk to your substitute decision maker to make sure you both have all the information. 

If you still have questions, you might want to talk to someone you trust, like a friend or a Community Service Worker.

In some cases, a substitute decision maker can be replaced through a “termination and replacement” application. This happens when a substitute decision maker is not doing what the law says they should be doing.

 

Where can I learn more about Supported Decision Making?

For more information about supported decision making, please see this fact sheet.

 

Where can I go for Peer Support?

People will often reach out to their support network.  This can include friends, family, and community members. Your Community Service Worker can also provide support.

Community organizations can also support you:

People First Manitoba is an organization of self-advocates, people with intellectual disabilities.

Family Advocacy Network is a community group of families of people with intellectual disabilities.

Community Living Manitoba is an organization that promotes and supports inclusion, self-determination, and empowerment.

Inclusion Winnipeg is a registered charity dedicated to making life better for children and adults living with intellectual disabilities by connecting people, assisting their families to navigate systems and leading the way in advancing their human rights.

Continuity Care is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting families in Manitoba to plan for an enriched quality of life for their family member with an intellectual disability.