The Manitoba government is committing nearly $3 million in ongoing funding for 17 additional clinical psychologists as part of continuing efforts to ensure access to specialized mental health services.
“Improving the health and well-being of Manitobans is a priority for our government, and strengthening the mental health system is an integral component of our plans,” said Mental Health and Community Wellness Minister Janice Morley-Lecomte. “We are addressing an acute shortage of psychologists in the province as a vital step to reduce wait times and stabilize the current workforce.”
“Clinical psychologists provide a wide range of evidence-based evaluation and treatment services for conditions such as depression, anxiety and psychosis, as well as for medical conditions such as chronic pain, cardiac disease and sleep disorders,” said Health Minister Audrey Gordon. “Establishing these new positions will increase equitable access and co-ordinated care for patients with complex health needs.”
The investment will enhance the specialized psychologist services available to children, youth and adults in Winnipeg and rural communities, the ministers noted. The investment builds on other Manitoba government recruitment initiatives including the addition of five new psychologist positions last year, all of which have been filled. Recruitment for the newly funded psychologist positions is underway, with a number of graduating clinical psychology residents already recruited into these roles for the fall.
“This meaningful investment will go a long way in addressing the need for more psychologists in our province’s health system, and specifically in areas of critical shortage such as pediatric services,” said Dr. Lesley Graff, provincial medical specialty lead of clinical health psychology, Shared Health. “Manitobans benefit every day from the compassionate and expert care of clinical health psychologists, and this new funding will provide Manitobans with better access to these specialists, shorten wait times, improve patient outcomes and, in many cases, save lives.”
The investment in the new positions has been funded through the province’s $200-million Health Human Resource Action Plan, which incorporates comprehensive initiatives and incentives to retain, train and recruit health-care providers. It is also funded through A Pathway to Mental Health and Community Wellness: A Roadmap for Manitoba , a five-year Manitoba government strategy to build a responsive, reliable system for mental health, substance-use and addictions services.
In addition, the Manitoba government is investing almost $412,000 through the new $10-million Labour Market Fund to double the number of seats to 16 in the doctoral clinical psychology training program at the University of Manitoba.
“Our government remains committed to improving mental health services in Manitoba, and clinical psychologists are specialists who play a key role in mental health and wellness,” said Advanced Education and Training Minister Sarah Guillemard. “This investment will help to grow the clinical psychology workforce and ensure that more Manitobans have access to the vital care psychologists provide.”
“The Manitoba Psychological Society is pleased with the increase in clinical psychologist positions in the health system and the addition of doctoral training seats; both represent significant steps in addressing our psychologist shortage and improving Manitobans’ access to effective psychological care,” said Dr. Jo Ann Unger, clinical psychologist and president, Manitoba Psychological Society. “We look forward to working with the government to address recruitment and retention issues, filling these new positions and growing the psychologist workforce in Manitoba.”
The ministers noted the investments respond to recommendations in the Peachey and VIRGO reports and align with Manitoba’s Clinical and Preventive Services Plan.