WINNIPEG — He’s been missing for more than a week and his family fears the worst, but Reid Bricker’s case could be the catalyst for change to the province’s Personal Health Information Act.
Health Minister Sharon Blady confirmed to Global News that her team is sitting down to review what changes could be help families in situations dealing with mental illnesses.
“How is it that we strike a balance between the autonomy of an individual and their right to privacy but at the same time, knowing when they are at their most vulnerable and they need their families support, how is it that we integrate that as well,” Blady said.
33-year-old Bricker has been missing since Oct. 24 after he was released from the Health Sciences Centre at 3:20 a.m.
Bricker’s family has said he suffers from severe depression, borderline-personality disorder and social anxiety. He has also attempted to take his own life on more than one occasion. Bricker’s mom said her son had attempted to take his life three times in ten days.
WATCH: Family of Reid Bricker want changes made to the province’s Personal Health Information Act
“He was in tremendous pain,” said Bonnie Bricker. “(He) had been fighting to stay alive everyday of his life and just ran out of the ability to stay with us.”
Bricker was released from the Health Sciences Centre at 3:20 a.m. Saturday morning but his family was never notified because of privacy restrictions under the Personal Health Information Act.
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has reviewed Bricker’s contact with HSC and says proper discharge protocols were followed.
“It’s important to recognize that if people are competent adults then they have the right to make decisions,” said Lori Lamont from the WRHA. “Unless someone is involuntarily admitted under the care of a psychiatrist we can’t force them to make the decisions that we perhaps would like them to make.”
But Bricker’s family would like to see those rules changed, especially in situations of patients with mental illnesses, and said the province needs to stop dragging its feet.
“They are moving too slow,” said Bricker. “You can’t keep reviewing the same documents and not have any outcome and not have any forward progress.”
This case has been eerily similar to Jill Tardiff’s. The 61-year-old also suffered from severe mental illness and was released from hospital after attempting to take her life on multiple occasions.
“I just don’t understand how the medical professionals don’t have some way of knowing that these people need to be kept safe for a longer time until the suicidal tendencies have passed,” said Deborah Lazaruk, Tardiff’s best friend. “Now is really the time. People really need to get on this bandwagon and hopefully get the system changed.”
Bricker’s family is hoping the two high profile cases will finally breed change in what they have said is a flawed system and a system that needs to be overhauled immediately.
“Not tomorrow, not a week from now,” said Bricker. “We have to get in the dirt, in the mud, up to our necks and fix this. I know I can’t live with myself if one more person dies this way.”