Invest in a Skilled Workforce

Disability support workers play an instrumental role in the lives of Manitobans with disabilities and contribute to their overall health and quality of life. Those Manitobans requiring such services deserve to be supported by well-trained and qualified staff who are paid a fair living wage.

However, disability support workers have long been one of the province's lowest paid human service workers. Their low wage levels do not reflect the importance of their duties or their responsibilities. These low wages have resulted in high staff turnover, staff shortages, burnout, high vacancies, long wait lists, and limited continuity of care. Evident for years, many more community-based organizations faced critically high staff vacancy rates during the pandemic than ever before.

The government’s unprecedented commitment of $82 million in this year’s budget to increase the average hourly wage for many frontline staff to $19 represents a significant step forward.

But it remains a partial step forward because:

  • The average wage increase only applies to those frontline staff paid through funding through two of the government’s many disability funding programs - Community Living disABILITY Services (CLdS) and Children’s disABILITY Service (CdS);
  • Even with the wage bump up, the frontline staff who benefit from the increase will still be earning less than staff who have similar responsibilities working in other human service sectors;
  • The average wage increase is not yet part of a comprehensive training strategy linked to quality standards and career laddering.

Abilities Manitoba has shown outstanding leadership in advocating for fair and living wages that reflect job responsibilities and in proposing a competency-based training system. Abilities Manitoba has been developing concepts for a credentialing system informed by best practices, similar to the provincial system of early childhood educators. Based on their research, Abilities Manitoba also recommends a target of 60% above minimum wage for frontline staff, along with a requirement of a minimum of 40 hours of training.

Questions for the Parties: If elected to form the next government...

  • Will your party commit to an increase over the next 3 years of $21, $23, and $25 for an average wage for disability support workers?
  • Will your party work toward similar average hourly wage increases for all frontline disability support workers, personal care attendants, and homecare workers with similar responsibilities?
  • Will your party work with organizations and stakeholders in the overall disability sector to develop and implement a competency-based training system?