The Manitoba government recently announced plans to enhance wages for support workers at agencies which provide residential services to adults with intellectual disabilities.
Family Services Minister Kerri Irvin-Ross announced Aug. 7 that the provincial government will provide an additional $6 million over the next three years to agencies which serve adults with intellectual disabilities.
Irvin-Ross said the aim of the new wage enhancement fund is to allow agencies to increase starting wages for support workers to between $13 and $14 an hour by 2017. She said it’s the government’s hope that the additional funding will allow agencies to “attract and retain employees who do important work with adults who have complex needs.”
Executive Director Ruby Reimer said the promise of additional funding is good news for agencies such as Epic Opportunities. However, she cautioned there are still a number of key questions that must be answered before the full impact of the announcement on the community living sector will be known.
“This is excellent news for all stakeholders connected to community living. The commitment is a big step in the right direction. I am cautiously optimistic as we await details on how and when the wage enhancements will be implemented.” she said.
A committee comprised of agency, union and government representatives will offer guidance in establishing the wage enhancement fund, Irvin-Ross said, noting this will include developing new standards for training, reviewing agency administrative structures and ensuring the efficient use of funds by agencies.
Abilities Manitoba President Malinda Roberts said in an open letter to Irvin-Ross that increasing wages for support workers to between $13 and $14 an hour “is a great start” but added she remains concerned the additional funding “will not go far enough or roll out quickly enough to mitigate the critical staffing concerns that many agencies are facing.”
Roberts also said Abilities Manitoba, a coalition of residential service providers, would like to meet with the minister to learn more about the wage enhancement fund and stressed the continued need for an inclusive planning process to ensure the long-term sustainability of services that vulnerable adults and their families depend on.