Manitoba's Mental Health Act


The Mental Health Act of Manitoba sets out in law requirements for patients in psychiatric facilities. It describes how people can be admitted to a psychiatric facility and treated for a mental disorder. The Act also applies to people on leave from a facility, and those who live in the community and are under Orders of Committeeship.

The Act considers two main aspects:

  • The rights of citizens under The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
  • Society's obligation to care for people who, due to their mental illness, may not appreciate the need for treatment.

For the purposes of this Act, mental disorder refers to a serious inability to have good judgement, behavior, or ability to meet the demands of everyday life. The person may have disordered thinking, mood, perception, or memory. The types of disorders here are NOT the same as a mental disability as described in "The Vulnerable Persons Living with a Mental Disability Act".


Voluntary Admission

If a person believes a family member or a friend is having difficulty with their mental or emotional health and needs help, there are options:

  • They should first try to arrange for their friend or family member to be seen by a physician for a medical exam. Take them to their family doctor, or their psychiatrist if they have one.
  • If that is not possible, take them to a walk-in clinic. Or, if serious, to an Urgent Care Centre (Winnipeg). If life threatening, take them to a hospital's emergency room.

To be admitted, the physician must agree that the family member or friend is suffering from a mental disorder and needs to be assessed and treated. To be admitted as a voluntary patient, they must consent to the admission. And the physician must agree the person is mentally competent.


Involuntary Admission

If a person is unable to convince their friend or family member to get assessed by a physician, there is a legal option. The person can go to a Justice of the Peace to apply for an order to have the family member or friend undergo an involuntary medical exam. Often a psychiatric crisis team can provide advice by phone, or visit the home.

If the situation is urgent, the police can take the family member or friend for an involuntary medical examination. Based on the exam, the physician can send the family member or friend to a psychiatrist to be assessed and treated.

For an individual to be involuntarily admitted, the medical opinions of the physician and the psychiatrist must agree.

Order of Events for an Involuntary Admission:
Judicial Order
Medical Examination
arrow Involuntary Psychiatric Assessment (Psychiatrist)
Police Action

The Mental Health Act has criteria that must be met for an involuntary admission. The psychiatrist must determine that the person:

  • is suffering from a mental disorder
  • because of the mental disorder the person may harm themselves or others, or will become sicker if not admitted
  • needs treatment that can only be provided in a psychiatric facility cannot be admitted as a voluntary patient because they are not mentally well enough to give consent.

If the psychiatrist and the physician agree on the criteria, they issue an Involuntary Admission Certificate. The patient remains in care for up to 21 days. The patient is assessed on an on-going basis. The psychiatrist recommends treatment and the length of stay. If the psychiatrist decides the patient should continue to receive care, a Renewal Certificate is issued every three months. The Mental Health Review Board hears appeals regarding specific aspects of the admission or treatment of a patient in a psychiatric facility.


Mental Health Review Board

The Mental Health Review Board meets regularly to hear appeals. The review board accepts applications and discuss and decide on issues such as whether:

  • the patient should be involuntary
  • the patient is mentally competent to make treatment decisions
  • the facility should agree with treatment wishes outlined in health care directives
  • the patient is competent to manage property
  • there should be an extension to the patient's leave certificate
  • there should be a cancellation of the patient's leave certificate
  • specified treatment should be given to the patient
  • all or part of the patient's clinical record should be withheld from the patient.


To Submit Appeal Application

To appeal to the Health Review Board, ask for an application (See Form #18 under The Mental Health Act) at any psychiatric facility. Or, contact the Mental Health Review Board for an application:

Mental Health Review Board
102 - 500 Portage Avenue
Winnipeg MB R3C 3X1
Business Hours: 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.
Telephone: 204-945-6050
Toll free: 1-855-630-5362
Fax: 204-948-2024

For more information about the mental health services available in your community, please contact your local Regional Health Authority.


Users are reminded that the original Acts or Regulations should be consulted for all purposes of applying and interpreting the law. For more information, please consult the Statutory Publications Web site.