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In the new year, Minister of Health, Seniors and Active Living Cameron Friesen says the government will continue taking meaningful action to provide better health care for Manitobans and create a more sustainable health care system.

Over the year, the government has taken notice of the sudden rise of illicit drug use, as well as the continued need for better access to health care services, and decreased emergency room wait times.

Friesen says in 2019, Manitobans can look forward to more announcements and initiatives for addictions and mental health resources in response to the Virgo Report.

"[It] is a master report that our province received in 2018, that says for years, the mental health and addictions services in Manitoba have been poorly coordinated... So our government is looking to fundamentally do something different and consolidate those services, and approach the work more coherently."

Friesen says, one of his mandates and something the government will be more focused on in the new year is talking more about long-term care facilities for seniors.

Another major milestone for 2019 will be a meeting with other health ministers, engaging with the federal government, and discussing health care in Manitoba. These talks will cover how to manage health care in rural, urban, and Northern areas.

Friesen says this will be called the Provincial Clinical and Preventive Services Planning, a complete comprehensive plan which a first for Manitoba, led by clinical leaders and administrators across this province.

Change can be scary says Friesen, but adds there is a need for change in order to see improvements.

"When you say health and change in the same sentence people get nervous, and I think that's natural. But I think people are also seeing that the changes we are doing are necessary. They're based on evidence, and they're beginning to show they're working."

According to Friesen, one of the positives coming from these changes is emergency service wait times in Winnipeg are down while the rest of the country's wait times are going up.

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