What is The Vulnerable Persons Act?


On October 4, 1996, a law came into force in Manitoba called The Vulnerable Persons Living with a Mental Disability Act (The VPA)

The VPA was developed to promote and protect the rights of adults living with a mental disability who need assistance to meet their basic needs. The legislation recognizes these Manitobans as vulnerable persons. 

For more information see the brochure on The Vulnerable Persons Living with a Mental Disability Act

The Five Guiding Principles:

The VPA is based on the following five guiding principles:  
  1. Vulnerable persons are presumed to have the capacity to make decisions affecting themselves, unless demonstrated otherwise.
  2. Vulnerable persons should be encouraged to make their own decisions.
  3. The vulnerable person’s support network should be encouraged to assist the vulnerable person in making decisions so as to enhance his or her independence and self-determination.
  4. Assistance with decision making should be provided in a manner which respects the privacy and dignity of the person and should be the least restrictive and lease intrusive form of assistance that is appropriate in the circumstances.
  5. Substitute decision making should be invoked only as a last resort when a vulnerable person need decisions to be made and is unable to make these decisions by himself or herself or with the involvement of members of his or her support network.

Five Guiding Principles Poster

The Five Guiding Principles Poster
Publication by Community Living – Manitoba

Key Provisions of The VPA

Community Living disABILITY Services is the program mandated to upkeep Part 2: Support Services and Part 3: Protection and Emergency Intervention sections of The VPA. For more information please visit the Community Living disABILITY Services website. The Office of the Vulnerable Persons Commissioner is mandated to upkeep Part 4: Substitute Decision Making section of The VPA.

Key Definitions and Terminology 

Who is considered to be a vulnerable person?

According to The VPA a vulnerable person is defined as "an adult living with a mental disability who is in need of assistance to meet his or her basic needs with regard to personal care and/or management of his or her property."

What is the definition of mental disability?

For an individual to be considered mentally disabled, the individual must have significantly impaired intellectual functioning existing concurrently with impaired adaptive behavior and manifested prior to the age of 18 years (excludes a mental disability due exclusively to a mental disorder as defined in section 1 of The Mental Health Act).

What is a support network?

The VPA defines a support network “as one or more persons who provide advice, support or assistance to a vulnerable person and may include (a) the vulnerable person’s spouse or common-law partner, (b) other members of the person’s family and (c) others chosen by the vulnerable person”.  Those chosen can include friends and past or present service providers.

What does the term incapacity mean?

The VPA defines a person as being incapable when that person is not able to understand information that is relevant to making the decision that is before him or her, or is not able to appreciate the reasonably foreseeable consequences of the decision or lack of making a decision.