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Province launches new training and recruitment initiatives to support disability services sector

November 30, 2020

The Manitoba government is introducing new training and recruitment initiatives to help ensure agencies that serve individuals with disabilities have adequate staff, while also creating employment opportunities for job-seekers, Families Minister Heather Stefanson announced today.

This work is part of the government’s broader plans to help  protect vulnerable Manitobans during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“The pandemic has put a serious strain on agencies that provide services and supports to Manitobans with disabilities, so we are introducing new initiatives to help bridge that gap on an urgent basis,” says 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.”

There are more than 70 community-based agencies in Manitoba that provide residential care to adults with intellectual disabilities. They 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 province is partnering with Manitoba Possible (formerly the Society for Manitobans with Disabilities) and their 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 be expediting adult and child abuse registry checks for applicants to ensure they can be safely employed.

“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,” says 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 who are 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 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 have completed 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 have a positive impact in these roles.

The training program will be offered at no cost and will launch on Monday, 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,” says RRC President Fred Meier. “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’ve 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.”

The minister noted the opportunities in the disability services sector will be highlighted in a new recruitment campaign, which will launch on social media next week. More information about the recruitment campaign will be posted at that time at disabilityrecruitmentmb.ca.

Last week, the province announced the new $35-million Caregiver Wage Support Program, which will make a $5-per-hour 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. This includes health-care aides, housekeeping staff, direct service workers and recreation workers in personal care homes, in disability services, child welfare services, homeless and family violence prevention shelters, or long-term care facilities

The province 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 about this program, visit gov.mb.ca/fs/pandemic-staffing-support-benefit.html.