The provincial government has announced $104 million is budgeted to support disability services and increase the wages of staff that deliver these services.
Premier Heather Stefanson and Families Minister Rochelle Squires made the announcement this week, indicating that this investment will impact the quality of life for people with intellectual disabilities.
“Our government remains steadfast in our commitment to create meaningful and impactful change for Manitobans living with disabilities,” said Stefanson. “We are listening, and we are taking action to improve the quality of lives of all Manitobans. This historic funding commitment, which represents the largest increase for this sector in our province’s history, will have a tremendous impact on the lives of children with disabilities and adults with an intellectual disability, their families and the staff who support them, now and for generations to come.”
As part of this $104-million investment, nearly $82 million will support increased wages for front-line staff, the premier noted, adding that this foundational investment is the largest single investment in Community Living disABILITY Services (CLDS) since the program’s inception.
“Our government is committed to reducing barriers and providing the necessary supports and services that empower children and adults with a disability to discover their talents, pursue their dreams and live independently,” said Squires. “Budget 2023 is about investing in our communities, with a historic $640-million total annual commitment towards services for the disability community and we look forward to continue working collaboratively with this sector to build a future full of hope and opportunity.”
The CLDS program provides funding to 93 agencies across the province that deliver a range of support services to approximately 7,900 adults with an intellectual disability. Children’s disABILITY Services supports 6,500 children with a variety of resources and supports to assist families to care for their children at home in their own communities, where children grow and thrive, the minister noted.
“This significant increase provides much-needed stability to people with disabilities and organizations. It will allow front-line staff who love their work to be able to stay and continue that work,” said Margo Powell, executive director, Abilities Manitoba. “This brings hope of being able to recruit and retain direct support staff who are interested, invested and able to stay in support work.”
The Manitoba government values the work performed by the sector’s direct services workers and recognizes their dedication in ensuring Manitobans with a disability receive quality services and supports in communities throughout the province, Stefanson and Squires noted.
The new funding includes:
$79.7 million to increase the baseline funded hourly wage rate to $19 for direct service workers and $20.90 for supervisors and program support staff who provide residential, day and respite services to CLDS participants and their families;
$2 million to support families raising children with disabilities to increase the funded guideline rate for agency-delivered and self-managed respite services to $19 per hour, so families supported through self-managed respite can offer a competitive wage when recruiting and retaining respite workers; and
$21.4 million to expand the capacity of the CLDS program.
During a pre-budget consultation meeting in Steinbach last month, several presentations were made that drew attention to the need for increased financial support for people in the disability support worker sector.