June 20, 2017

We met with the Premier today to present him with artwork on Human Rights. Along with our partners at Barrier Free Manitoba, Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities and Canadian Mental Health Association we had a most productive and successful meeting. This meeting came as a result of the collective art installation compiled last December 3 at the Canadian Museum for Human Rights. Several hundred people came together to celebrate International Day of Person’s with Disabilities and self-advocates spoke powerfully about their experiences in relation to the Charter of Human Rights.

Premeir Pallister spoke about people with disabilities and that they’d been largely ignored by the goverment for many years. He thanks all who work in community for their advocacy work and spoke of the critical need for advocacy. We are proud of our members and the work and advocacy they take on daily to contribute to a stronger province. A very successful day!

Pallister Facebook

Press Release April 5, 2017





Call to government to address the critical needs of vulnerable people in the upcoming budget.


Winnipeg, Manitoba (April 5, 2017) – Services to Manitobans with intellectual disabilities are at a critical impasse. Funding has not been adjusted for cost of living increases in six years; there’s a lack of standardized training and constant staff turnover. Manitobans with intellectual disabilities are calling on the government to demonstrate that they are important in this next budget.


“It takes time for my daughter to build a relationship and to trust. It’s this trusting relationship that allows her to feel safe. When she’s not feeling safe and supported her anxiety grows and when her anxiety grows her behaviour changes.  When she feels safe and protected she blossoms,” said Gloria Woloshyn, a concerned mom.


Families are waiting beyond ten years for residential services and only receive services in crisis situations. Staff that are doing complex work are getting paid the same as a server at a coffee shop and vulnerable people are seeing constant turnover in their support staff, leaving them at risk.


“There have been times where my daughter has built a good relationship only to have it gone.  It hurts to watch this over again and again. In many cases the relationship ends, not because the worker wants to leave, but because the worker cannot afford to stay.  My daughter is caught in the middle of this unhealthy circle and it’s really sad to watch,” said Gloria.
Over six-thousand adults with intellectual disabilities in Manitoba are affected by budget decisions made by the provincial government. Most are supported by non-profit, community agencies that fall under the Abilities Manitoba umbrella. These community agencies offer varied services including residential, employment, day, and respite supports.


“Family members are telling us they’re worried about funding. They’re afraid of cuts to front line services and that a system already fraught with problems will be further jeopardized.” said Margo Powell, Executive Director of Abilities Manitoba. This concern is compounded by the fact that funding has been flat-lined since 2011 which has resulted in many non-profit agencies being stretched further and further to deliver high quality supports.


Last April, at the Chamber of Commerce Leader’s debate, Premier Pallister was quoted as saying, “The best governments are always the ones that put the interests of vulnerable people first. I will do that as Premier.” We call on the provincial government to fulfill Premier Pallister’s words and show that Manitoba truly cares about people with intellectual disabilities and front line services critical to thousands of Manitoba families.



For more information please contact:


Jennifer Rodrigue

Signed and Sealed – Yet to be Delivered

All three of the NDP leadership candidates have now responded to the joint Abilities Manitoba/Barrier-Free Manitoba  request for their positions on key disability issues.

While we all know that commitments made during an election can be different from action after, this is a remarkable development:

  • Disabilities are the only major public issue that all three candidates have addressed in their campaigns so far.
  • Like the candidates themselves, their responses are quite different but all three have committed, if elected, to the full and timely implementation of the landmark Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA).
  • All three candidates also made important commitments on related disability issues.
  • One of the three candidates will be the Premier of Manitoba after March 8.

This is good news indeed.

The even better news is that Manitoba’s disability communities worked together once again to make this happen. We’ve proven once more that there is real strength in numbers and in collective action.

We urge you to share the candidates responses with others you know who are concerned about disabilities. As the contest is for the NDP leadership, we also strongly encourage you to share them with people you know who may be party members and ask them to consider the candidates positions in deciding who they support in the leadership race.

Once the leader has been elected, we will need to continue to work together to ensure the leader and the government fulfill the promises that have been made. And we will need to work together yet again to ensure that disability issues are key priorities in the general election scheduled for next spring.

Thank you for your incredible support.

Selinger Sets Out Positions on 3 Key Disability Issues and Beyond

February 9, 2015

Greg Selinger, the final of the candidates for the NDP leadership to set out positions on key disability issues, committed himself, if re-elected, to the timely implementation of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA), including comitments on several detailed measures.

He also stated his in principle support for Abilities Manitoba’s five-priority pathway toward improved and sustainable services for Manitobans with intellectual disabilities, including commitments to improving training and standards of care and to future increases toward paying service workers a living wage.

Mr. Selinger’s response also referenced his recent support for examining the introduction of a pension-like basic income for people with severe and prolonged disabilities and his request for a review of government-wide benchmarks for civil servant employment equity and for how infrastructure initiaitives might help increase empoyment for those with disabilities.

Finally, Mr. Selinger’s response included his commitments to build more social housing and fufilling provincial obligations under the United Nations Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD).

We received a very initial response from Greg Selinger on February 5 and asked for clarification. We are pleased to post his official response that was received on the afternoon of February 9.

Download Selinger Response

(Reformatted from the original)

Malinda Roberts President Abilities Manitoba

Janet Forbes Steering Committee Member Barrier-Free Manitoba

Thank you for your letter of January 7, 2015. As I mentioned in my reply of February 5, 2015, it is my intention as Premier to continue implementing the Accessibility for Manitobans Act, an Act I was very pleased to support as Premier in 2013 when it was enacted. I will ensure that the requirements under the Act for an Annual Plan, for public entity targets, for the development of regulations and for the development of terms of reference for every proposed accessibility standard, will be met in a timely fashion. In the process, I commit to consult with all parties affected by our accessibility initiatives and to make transparent what we intend to implement. I will ensure that the Accessibility Advisory Council has the necessary resources to undertake its work properly and that provision will be made for organizations and individuals to participate in consultative processes.

I also support in principle the Five Priorities developed by Abilities Manitoba under their Action plan. As Premier, I was pleased to be able to introduce the Wage Enhancement Fund last year, designed to improve the wages of service workers. I commit to further increases in the Fund as the budget permits so that we can make steady progress towards paying service workers a living wage. I also commit to improving training and standards of care.

As promised in my response to The View from Here, I have asked the Premiers Advisory Council on Education, Poverty and Citizenship to examine the possibility of introducing a pension-like basic income for people with severe and prolonged disabilities. I also asked the Council to review government-wide benchmarks for employment equity for civil servants, and to explore how infrastructure initiatives might help increase employment for those with disabilities.

My commitment to build more social housing should also be of great benefit to people with disabilities.

I am also committed to fulfilling our obligations under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

Thank you for your untiring support for those with disabilities. I look forward to working closely with you in future.

Greg Selinger

Ashton Commits to Critical Path Forward

February 6, 2015

Steven Ashton, the second NDP leadership candidate to outline their positions on key disability issues, committed himself, if elected, to the timely implementation of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) and to acting on Abilities Manitoba’s five-priority pathway toward improved and sustainable services for Manitobans with intellectual disabilities.

Ashton also committed, if elected, to assigning responsibility for an action plan to improving circumstances for persons with disabilities and the development of a critical path with Barrier-Free Manitoba and Abilities Manitoba and the minister responsible to move this agenda forward in a timely and acceptable manner.

Download Ashton Response

(Reformatted from the original)

Malinda Roberts
Abilities Manitoba

Janet Forbes
Steering Committee Member
Barrier-Free Manitoba

February 6, 2015

Dear friends,

Thank you for your recent letter. To use a phrase I heard from David Steen, I am a temporarily able bodied person. A healthy progressive society ensures that those who face barriers get the support they need to enjoy all the rights and privileges everyone enjoys.

I am proud to serve in a Government that worked with the Disability Caucus to put Manitoba in the forefront in meeting the needs of the community of people living with Disabilities. I am proud that as Minister of Government services and then Infrastructure, I worked to improve access to government buildings. If I am successful, going forward, I commit myself and my government to a close working relationship with your community and its leaders.

As premier, I will work to ensure the timely implementation of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act, I will act upon Abilities Manitobas five-priority pathway, and I will assign responsibility for an action plan for improving circumstances for persons with disabilities. If I am successful, I commit to establishing a critical path with you and the minister responsible on how we can move this agenda forward in a timely and acceptable manner.

Thank you for taking the initiative to ensure the candidates for leader of the Manitoba New Democratic party are aware of the issues and for advancing an agenda that can make our party and our province a leader on this important objective.



Steve Ashton


Oswald is First Candidate to Set Out Positions on Key Issues

Feb 06, 2015

Theresa Oswald’s positions on key disability issues that were announced yesterday afternoon included commitments, if elected as NDP leader, to take action to address each of the detailed matters raised by Barrier-Free Manitoba and Abilities Manitoba

We received an initial response from Theresa Oswald on the afternoon of February 4 and were asked not to post it until the next day as she was organizing a related media event the next day. We received a slightly revised version of her response on February 5 that we are pleased to post below.

Download Oswald Response

Oswald Media Release

February 5, 2015

Dear Abilities Manitoba and Barrier-Free Manitoba,

Thank you for your interest in the NDP leadership campaign and for your tireless efforts to build a fully accessible Manitoba. Your leadership and the advocacy of your members were instrumental in not only laying groundwork for, but also providing meaningful input into, the historic Accessibility for Manitobans Act. By working together in the coming years we can continue progress on our shared goal of building a fully inclusive society. Please see answers to each of your three questions below.

[Note: These responses have been enhanced from previous to include details of Theresa’s plan unveiled in the attached news release dated February 5, 2015]

1. Introducing and passing the Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) was a proud moment for all New Democrats. Theresa is committed to fully implementing the Act, including by ensuring the tabling of the Minister’s first annual plan in April 2015, supporting public sector bodies to complete their plans, enacting regulations relating to the Customer Service standard, working with the Accessibility Advisory Council to select the next area for standard development and completing two of these standards by 2016. We will also ask the Accessibility Advisory Council to lead a public process regarding compliance measures to be enacted in regulation to enforce those standards, which will include strong representation from the disability community. We will ensure both the Disabilities Issues Office and the Council continue to have the resources they need to lead the process of fulfilling the promises contained in the AMA, and a fund will be established to support individuals and non-profit organizations who wish to participate in the public consultation processes required under the Act.

2. Yes, Theresa supports changes in the Community Living sector which will allow for a stronger, better-trained and better-paid workforce delivering better co-ordinated services that better meet the needs of people with disabilities. As a member of Treasury Board, Theresa supported the $6 million fund to increase the wages of people who work as support workers, while recognizing that there is more to be done to increase the wages of everyone in this workforce. That’s why Theresa’s plan would at least double the fund, from $6 million to $12 million over three years. This will provide the capacity to now include both day program and respite workers along with rewarding experienced workers wishing to transition into supervisory positions with competitive wages. Expanding the fund will also allow for these workers to access more training and ensure they are compensated when they do. Theresa also believes in strong quality assurance standards in Community Living services and will work with these organizations to develop and implement new standards. As well, we want to continue to work with Abilities Manitoba and others to improve system co-ordination and address the gaps in services for people with disabilities by immediately taking action on the Five Priority Pathway plan. Theresa will also continue to identify the barriers to full participation for people with intellectual disabilities and work to remove them.

3. Manitoba is proud to be known as a centre of activism in the global struggle for the rights of people with disabilities. If elected leader, Theresa will seek to continue this reputation by developing and implementing an action plan to meet our obligations under the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. Thank you,


Theresa Oswald | A different kind of leader