November 30, 2020
The Manitoba government is introducing new training and recruitment initiatives to help ensure agencies that serve Manitobans with disabilities have adequate staff, while also creating employment opportunities, Families Minister Heather Stefanson announced today, noting this work is part of the government’s broader plans to protect vulnerable Manitobans during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“The pandemic has put a serious strain on agencies that provide services to Manitobans with disabilities, so we are introducing new initiatives to help bridge that gap on an urgent basis,” said Stefanson. “Today we are highlighting our plans to better protect Manitobans with disabilities by launching an online employment platform that will match eligible service providers with available positions. This will be supported by a recruitment campaign, as well as a new online training program that will help prepare workers for rewarding positions throughout Manitoba in disability services.”
More than 70 community-based agencies in Manitoba provide residential care to adults with intellectual disabilities. These agencies are experiencing significant staffing challenges related to COVID-19 and require immediate support to ensure they can continue to provide compassionate care to their clients, the minister said.
The province is partnering with Manitoba Possible (formerly the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities) and its online platform, called ‘envoyy’, to connect agencies with job seekers who have appropriate training and skills. The Manitoba government is providing $68,000 to strengthen envoyy with better technical support, customer service and related demands over the next six months. The province will also expedite adult and child abuse registry checks for applicants.
“Manitoba Possible is pleased to have the opportunity to work with the government of Manitoba to meet this urgent and important need for Manitobans with disabilities and their families,” said Lindsey Cooke, director of provincial services, Manitoba Possible. “We are confident that by working together, envoyy will offer agencies and individuals an efficient means to connect with verified disability service providers in their area during these unprecedented times.”
Manitobans interested in working with adults with intellectual disabilities in a variety of roles, such as helping with daily household tasks, supporting life-skills development or providing companionship, can apply immediately at www.envoyy.ca. Agencies with available positions can sign up with envoyy and begin posting them on Dec. 10.
The province is partnering with Red River College to develop an accelerated, self-directed online program focused on the fundamentals of disability support work. Once they complete this one-week program, participants will have a stronger understanding of the necessary responsibilities to ensure the health and safety of residents. Agencies will be able to refer new staff hired through envoyy, as well as other recent hires who may benefit from this training, to help ensure service providers have a solid base of knowledge to make a positive impact in these roles.
The training program will be offered at no cost and will launch Dec. 7. It can accommodate up to 30 students each week, so up to 360 service providers may be able to participate by the end of March.
“Red River College is proud to leverage its expertise and partner with the province to help address an urgent need in the disability services sector in response to COVID-19,” said Fred Meier, president and CEO, Red River College. “This course and the additional micro-credentials that we have developed over the last two months continue to serve as rapid response tools that boost capacity in a number of important sectors, and keep Manitobans safe and supported as we respond to the ongoing challenges of the pandemic. The work that we have undertaken right now provides urgent solutions to immediate needs by training people in specific, needed competencies while providing essential knowledge in a particular aspect of professional practice.”
Stefanson noted the provincewide opportunities in the disability services sector will be highlighted in a new recruitment campaign that will launch on social media today. More information on the recruitment campaign is available at https://www.disabilityrecruitmentmb.ca/.
Last week, the province announced the new $35-million Caregiver Wage Support Program, which will make an hourly $5 wage top-up available to more than 20,000 Manitobans currently working full-time or part-time on the front lines of the pandemic response. These include health-care aides, housekeeping staff, direct service workers and recreation workers at personal care homes and in disability services, child welfare services, homeless and family violence prevention shelters, or long-term care facilities.
The Manitoba government has also announced the new $10-million Pandemic Staffing Support Benefit to help address urgent staffing needs in the disability services, child-care and child welfare sectors. For more information on this program, visit www.gov.mb.ca/fs/pandemic-staffing-support-benefit.html.
For more information on Manitoba Possible, visit www.manitobapossible.ca.