VPA Task Force

The Vulnerable Persons Living with a Mental Disability Task Force (the Task Force) has been created by the Honourable Heather Stefanson, Minister of Families, to provide recommendations on the way services for adults with intellectual disabilities are provided in Manitoba.  Select representatives from CLdS, The Manitoba Department of Families, and Abilities Manitoba have been invited to serve on the Task Force chaired by Dale Kendel.  The Task Force has been asked to complete its work and provide final recommendations by March 31, 2021. 

Specifically, the Task Force has been mandated to accomplish the following: 

  • Develop a strategy and a two year plan to encourage supported decision making and reduce reliance on substitute decision making. 
  • Examine and make recommendations on practices and policies around services for adults with intellectual disabilities in the following areas: 
  • The community engagement and education role of the Office of the Vulnerable Persons Commissioner 
  • The role of Community Services Workers 
  • Issues around the legal definition of abuse, as well as the process of investigating, verifying, and the penalty for substantiated cases of abuse 
  • The role of the Adult Abuse Registry 
  • Issues around supported decision making 
  • Individual planning issues 
  • The role of the Public Guardian and Trustee 

The work of this Task Force will build on a comprehensive review of The Vulnerable Persons Living with a Mental Disability Act (VPA), completed in 2007.  The Task Force will also benefit from the recent work of community advocates, who submitted a report of recommendations for amending the VPA in August 2019.  The Department of Families has also reviewed the community advocate report, which makes this a good time for further conversations about advancing the recommendations of the report. 

Subcommittees of the Task Force have been tasked to collect feedback from Manitobans on the following areas and report their findings back to the Task Force: 

  1. Supported decision making 
  2. Substitute decision making  
  3. Issues around abuse (definition, reporting, investigating, punishing, the adult abuse registry)  
  4. Individual planning issues 
  5. Role of the Office of the Vulnerable Persons Commissioner  
  6. Role of the Public Guardian and Trustee  
  7. Role of Community Services Workers 
  8. Principles of the Act  
  9. Review Clause 

Abilities Manitoba Members are invited to share feedback on any/all of the above 9 areas by way of this Discussion Forum. It is important to have the voices of all stakeholders incorporated into this discussion – self-advocates, family members, care providers, agency employees, and other community members with vested interest. 

Click on any of the 9 topics above to join the discussions!  

If you have information that you would like to share privately, you can contact either Jeannie or Leslie at: 

Jeannie Alexander at 431-688-6108 jeannie@abilitiesmanitoba.org 

Leslie Udell at 431-688-6219 leslie@abilitiesmanitoba.org 


Some Guiding Resources: 

Update on Quality Framework Project

This update was provided at the most recent Abilities Annual General Meeting (September 18, 2020): 

The past year saw a great deal of activity related to Phase #2 of the Quality Framework project. While it took a little bit of time to solidify a Memo of Understanding and final budget for this phase of the project, we did move ahead in June 2019 to complete our second round of stakeholder engagement, visiting the seven same communities that we had visited previously. We met with people with disabilities, their families and service providers to share what we accomplished and learned in Phase #1, what recommendations we had made and what was coming up next. We also shared a draft copy of the Leading Practice Guidelines and solicited feedback on both content and implementation until the middle of July.

Personal Outcome Measures Pilot:

A formal Expression of Interest to participate in the pilot was sent out to all Manitoba CLdS organizations in November, to which eleven organizations responded. All eleven organizations will participate in the pilot, seven were selected to use Personal Outcome Measures and four were originally selected to be used as control organizations for the purposes of a formal evaluation conducted by Healthy Child Manitoba – Social Innovation Office (HCMSIO)

Two Quality Specialists were hired who are assisting with training and interviewing using the Personal Outcome Measures tool/method.

The pilot officially began on January 6th with three Abilities Manitoba staff obtaining their training and certification in the use of Personal Outcome Measures. Two of these same staff were certified to train others. Training of staff in the seven pilot organizations began in January and to date, we have trained 89 people. A handful of CLdS staff are also included in this number.

Interviewing began at the beginning of February. Our aim is to provide the opportunity for 20% of the people supported within the pilot organizations to participate in a Personal Outcome Measure interview. Feedback based on what was learned that may help the organization improve its services for that person is then provided. Care was taken to choose 20% of the people within each organization that is representative of the demographic characteristics of the total number of people they serve.

Due to the pandemic, interviewing and training were halted in mid-March however, has slowly resumed beginning in late July as organizations and people receiving services feel safe to do so. We have taken advantage of the nice summer weather to do outdoor interviewing and are also conducting virtual interviewing as well to keep all involved safe.

A formal evaluation is planned to discover whether the use of Personal Outcome Measures is beneficial and if so, how. Originally, Healthy Child Manitoba (Social Innovation Office) was resourced to conduct this evaluation, however, changes in this department as well as the pandemic have led to some challenges in this area.

We are working with our partners in government for more resources to extend the original timeframe (and budget) of the project to:

  • Allow for time to hit our 20% target acknowledging that the pandemic has disrupted our original schedule.
  • Expand the pilot to fold in the control organizations as the original design of the evaluation is no longer valid and we hope that all interested organizations can still benefit from the pilot
  • Conduct a robust third-party evaluation of the project and its original objectives.

Leading Practice Guidelines:

The Leading Practice Guidelines are now set up on the Abilities Manitoba website in an interactive format along with associated resources, sample policies and documentation. You can access these here: https://abilitiesmanitoba.org/docs/leading-practice-guidelines/

We are developing a plain language/easy read version of the Leading Practice Guidelines so that people receiving support and their families will have more information about what they could expect.

We are also developing a self-assessment workbook for organizations to use the Leading Practice Guidelines to assess where they are in relation to the guidelines, where they want to be and what they intend to focus on in the next year to move forward. We have several organizations that are interested in trialling this workbook once fully drafted.

Abilities Manitoba would like to acknowledge and thank the Province and in particular the Department of Families, Community Living disAbility Services for their ongoing support and collaboration on this project. 

If you have any questions on the project, please contact Leanne Fenez at leanne@abilitiesmanitoba.org or 204-791-9319.


Abilities Manitoba Golf Fundraiser

  Graphic of golf club and ball against a green lawn. The words Fundraiser and the Abilities Manitoba logo appear at the top of the graphic.Keep Abilities Manitoba STRONG and Moving Forward!

Anyone who purchases a golf pass from Bridges Golf Course for $80 in July will see $20 for each pass purchased go to Abilities Manitoba! 

How it Works!

The Bridges Charitable Green Fee Promotion

Bridges helping the events and charities that they work closely with every year to continue to raise funds, in spite of cancelled and postponed events due to Covid-19. Hence, the Bridges Charitable Green Fee Promotion.

This promotion runs from now until July 31st, or until all 1000 passes have been sold. Each $80 green fee purchase consists of a $60 charitable green fee (valid any time, any day that regular tee times are being taken, includes shared power cart) and more importantly a $20 donation to Abilities Manitoba! The allocated 1000 passes are on a first-come, first-served basis.
How can you help!
  1. Share this link:  https://www.bridgesgolfcourse.com/golf/charity-green-fee-promotion/ with people and communities you know. 
  2. Golfers can head to the link provided, fill in their information, choose their number of rounds and select “Abilities Manitoba” as their Charity of Choice, and are directed to PayPal to finalize their purchase (PayPal, debit or credit) 
  3. The passes are ready for pickup within 48 hours of purchase, and the golfers simply book a tee time anytime this summer (tee time NOT required when purchasing). These passes can NOT be used as registration for the Abilities Manitoba Golf Tournament; These are meant to be used for regular play on the course.
  4. Once the program is complete, Bridges will forward a donation cheque to Abilities Manitoba!
Please, share this fundraiser with people you know – golfers and potential golfers – and help raise funds to keep Abilities Manitoba moving forward!

Thank you, in advance, for all of your efforts!
Looking for more information on our upcoming Golf Tournament?? Check out this link! https://abilitiesmanitoba.org/annual-golf-tournament/

Campaign for immediate essential worker wage increase for Direct Support Staff

Direct Support Professionals are #EssentialToUs and deserve recognition of the tremendous responsibilities that they fulfill every day. Even more so during this pandemic. Please join us in urging Brian Pallister to value DSPs now and into the future for the heroes they are. 

The campaign launched on May 8th with a full page ad in the Winnipeg Free Press.

Organizations across Manitoba shared images of DSPs working tirelessly everyday with which we created a campaign video. Song Credits – Alicia Keys – Good Job

Bill boards (see image below) have been placed throughout Manitoba (see schedule and location)

Look for this billboard in the following locations and date. 

Community Market




Portage La

Saskatchewan Ave West 185m East of 24 St SS Facing West




Highway 3 1.8km West of Highway 14 Junction SS Facing West




Pacific Ave 20m East of 3 St NS Facing West




Main St 40m South of Pittsburg Ave WS Facing North




Main St 35m South of Centre Ave WS Facing South



Flin Flon

Highway 10A 230m West of Highway 10 SS Facing East



Swan River

Main St 490m East of Valley Rd SS Facing East




Buchanan Rd 22m West of Jackson St SS Facing West




Highway 16 West 455m West of Highway 5 NS Facing East




Highway 9 60m South of Howard Ave ES Facing South




Brandt St 50m Noth of Main St Facing South



Thank you to all who have sponsored billboards — ED’s Network, Community Living Manitoba, Inclusion Selkirk.

Bus ads are also live in Winnipeg on 50 buses! Thanks to Northway Pharmacy and Ready Meds for sponsoring these ads.

Finally, our Global ad is live and will air for another week (total of two weeks). Here is a Schedule of when Global Ad Airs , so you can be sure to see it!

The original ad can be seen here: https://global-corusent.box.com/s/ujvbraegk0pviuqx4mu3fiqno6e5evl8

We created a modified ad to acknowledge the inclusion of DSPs  in the Risk Recognition Program and it can be seen here: https://global-corusent.box.com/s/b2p5sqocbt8mt3dpatpgiaaqenswjji3

On June 2nd, 2020, Abilities released a press release following the announcement by the Province government that DSPs would be included in the Risk Recognition Program. 

Background info:

Campaign Goal:

As we see many essential workers being compensated for their continued, selfless work during an unprecedented global pandemic, we continue to see Direct Support Workers who support people with intellectual disability treated poorly, reflecting our society and our governments overall view of people with intellectual disability. The goal of this campaign is to help stabilize and secure the fragile disability sector workforce by implementing a $5/hour wage supplement for all Direct Support Workers working through Covid-19, and time and a half pay for anyone caring for someone who is Covid-19 positive.


The campaign is led by Abilities Manitoba and is endorsed and supported by the Family Advocacy Network, People First of Manitoba, The Alliance of Direct Support Professionals of Manitoba, Inclusion Winnipeg, Barrier-Free Manitoba, Community Living Manitoba and Disability Matters Vote.

Thank you for your help! Together we CAN make a difference!


Please join us and many more disability organizations across the country in endorsing this Call to Action. Post on your social media, website or email to your contacts. In a time when there is lots of noise, this message needs to get through! 

It is imperative that the Government of Canada urgently address the unique vulnerabilities of people with disabilities and their families during the COVID-19 crisis. People with disabilities represent 22% of the Canadian population. Many are at extreme risk and require additional support to ensure their health and safety at this time.  

Some people with disabilities are vulnerable to COVID-19 because of the nature of their disability and related health challenges. Many others are at risk because of the measures put in place in response to COVID-19 which require people with disabilities and their families to distance themselves from their communities and support systems and to invest funds up front for supplies needed to maintain wellbeing during an extended period of isolation.

If Canada’s healthcare system becomes overburdened by COVID-19, most triaging guidelines will result in people with disabilities being denied care, triaged out of care solely on the basis of having a disability. This was the case during the SARS and H1N1 pandemics and we have no reason to believe that guidelines have changed. Canadians with disabilities may be refused ventilators or life support in a moment of crisis because they have a disability. This discriminatory policy is of great concern.

Family stress and reduced staff support is already proving to be a challenge as schools, daycares, and recreational activities close and children and adults with disabilities must stay home and rely on family or staff. As lifestyles shift to promote social distancing, people with disabilities require support in navigating alternative approaches to maintaining their independence, health, and safety in everyday life. For some, this shift is not only difficult to manage but impossible to negotiate alone.

Indeed, family members are having to step up and step away from other priorities and sources of income to fill gaps in disability support for their loved ones. They are absorbing the costs of COVID-19 personally and out of necessity; and they are terrified of what will happen if they themselves become infected and must self-quarantine. People with disabilities and their families need immediate financial support.

People living in group arrangements also have evolving needs which now must largely be met from within their residences, on the fly, and with very little guidance or resourcing from public health agencies or governments. We know that there are now staffing shortages because of this concentration of need and as staff self-isolate for their own protection. Further, staff may be anxious about getting sick or being vectors of COVID-19 transmission both inside and outside the workplace.  

Canada must step up to the challenge set by the UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, to provide for continuity of care, financial aid, and reassurance that the survival of people with disabilities is a priority. (1)

We therefore recommend that the Canadian government*:

Agreed upon top seven priorities of the disability community      

  1. Issue an explicit national values statement affirming the equal rights of people with disabilities to available medical treatment and care including in circumstances of pandemic triage, and – more broadly – reaffirming Canada’s commitment to the rights of persons with disabilities to equality and inclusion, as enshrined in the Charter, provincial/federal/territorial human rights law, and in Canada’s international obligations under the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.
  2. Ensure that all announcements made by the Prime Minister and the Public Health Agency are fully accessible and in plain language, and that all networks publicly broadcasting these announcements are mandated to capture these accessibility features. (2)
  3. Release guidelines for service providers and people with disabilities who must continue to interact with service providers, to keep everyone safe and to ensure that necessary support continues. Provide protective equipment such as gloves and masks and prioritize the screening of support staff and personal caregivers in private homes and care centres. (3)
  4. Establish a Citizen’s Task Force inclusive of people with disabilities, their families, and relevant civil society organizations to monitor evolving needs and advise on remedial strategies in real time, as adverse policy impacts affecting the provision of essential disability related care and support become apparent. Long term, following the COVID-19 pandemic, this group could help to inform a disability inclusive Federal emergency response plan for pandemics and other nation-wide emergency situations.
  5. Protect the income of people with disabilities and their families. Support businesses who have hired people with disabilities by offering them education in how best to provide accommodations and accessible work-from-home measures for their employees. Extend EI Caregiver Benefits to those who are stepping into a caregiver role due to illness or isolation from COVID-19.
  6. Connect with individual Indigenous communities across Canada to assess the current state of their operations and identify the critical health and disability related needs of their members with a disability and the best way to meet those needs.  Implement a comprehensive communications plan to ensure that Indigenous communities and their members are receiving information in a timely and accessible manner.
  7. Transfer funds to the provinces and territories that are marked for the health and support needs of people with a disability. Work with the provinces and territories to encourage considered approaches to disability inclusion throughout the country.

Other actions that would be extremely beneficial     –

  1. Regulate the insurance industry to prohibit exclusion from health benefits for reasons that adversely impact Canadians with disabilities during a pandemic. (4)
  2. Provide additional crisis funding to not-for-profit organizations that provide services to people with disabilities, appreciating that their fundraising revenue will be severely compromised.
  3. Establish a hotline to help Canadians with disabilities and their families navigate emergent concerns and innovative supports during the COVID-19 pandemic.

And that the Federal government take on a leadership role in working with the provinces and territories, and relevant regulatory bodies to:

  1. Ensure that any provincially applied triage methods do not discriminate against people disabilities. Every Canadian, regardless of where they live, must have access to all support required to live through COVID-19.
  2. Ensure that all pandemic related communications released by provincial and territorial governments and health authorities are fully accessible and in plain language, and that all networks publicly broadcasting these announcements are mandated to capture these accessibility features.
  3. Legislate job protection for individuals with disabilities who are unable to fulfill their work duties due to heighted risk of infection and/or other societal barriers (gaps in transportation for example) and for family members and others who have to step away from work to provide care during the COVID-19 crisis.
  4. Ensure that hospitals make an exception to any blanket prohibition of visitors when a person with a disability requires assistance with vital services like communication, caregiving, or supported decision making.
  5. Consider those who provide disability supports and/or work in fields like wheelchair maintenance or software engineering for communication devices to be engaged in essential services so that they remain accessible.
  6. Prevent the retraction of any unclaimed funding administered for services such as personal assistance or therapy when they are cancelled by either party due to COVID-19 (illness or illness prevention). Potential solutions may include: rolling these funds forward, and/or relaxing reporting obligations so that people with disabilities and their families may use their discretion in re-allocating these funds during a time of crisis.
  7. Provide COVID-19 testing sites that are physically accessible – including to persons who require mobility aids and those who do not drive or have access to a vehicle.
  8. Provide advances on all disability payments in order to allow for people with disabilities and their families to stock up on food and medical supplies, make required changes to disability supports and relevant assistive technologies, and continue to pay routine bills.
  9. Temporarily relax regulations pertaining to refilling prescription medications including controlled substances. Solutions may include empowering pharmacists to renew prescriptions during the COVID-19 crisis or mandating medical practitioners to refill prescriptions over the phone.
  10. Support people with disabilities in accessing community-based mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Additional resources and information can be found at:

The International Disability Alliance at: http://www.internationaldisabilityalliance.org/covid-19 (International)

The Partnership for Inclusive Disaster Strategies: https://mailchi.mp/disasterstrategies/covid19-national-call-to-action-org-support150  (US)

Centre for Research Excellence in Disability and Health: https://credh.org.au/news-events/covid-19-and-people-with-disabilities/ (Aus)

UN News: https://news.un.org/en/story/2020/03/1059762 (International)

And Disability organizations in Australia have endorsed https://mcusercontent.com/9b4dc5c4cde2d6162dcb52396/files/d314e3a2-38d0-4e7c-8953-5e149ea6ffc8/Urgent_actions_needed_for_people_with_disability_to_respond_to_COVID_19.pdf (Aus)

*(1) UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities: https://www.ohchr.org/EN/NewsEvents/Pages/DisplayNews.aspx?NewsID=25725&LangID=E

This is not an exhaustive list of all that can or should be done to support people with disabilities in Canada during the COVID-19 pandemic. It is intended to be used as a starting point for government to build upon in collaboration with people with disabilities as the pandemic responses unfold and new needs become apparent.

*(2) The United Nations recommends that during the COVID-19 pandemic “public advice campaigns and information from national health authorities must be made available to the public in sign language and accessible means, modes and formats, including accessible digital technology, captioning, relay services, text messages, easy-to-read and plain language.” If uncertainty arises, Canada can connect with the disability community for guidance and support in best practices in accessible communication and information sharing.

*(3) As a best practice, these guidelines should be developed in consultation with the community care sector.

*(4) For example, some people with disabilities who are currently abroad do not feel that they can travel home without risking exposing themselves to COVID-19. These individuals must not lose their health insurance at this time.

Endorsed By:

Abilities Centre
Abilities Manitoba

Active Living Alliance for Canadians with a Disability
Alliance for Equality of Blind Canadians
ARCH Disability Law Centre

Barrier-Free Manitoba
Barrier free Canada – Canada sans barriers
British Columbia Aboriginal Network on Disability Society
Canadian Association for Community Living
Canadian Association of the Deaf-Association des Sourds du Canada
Canadian Autism Spectrum Disorder Alliance
Canadian Council of the Blind
Canadian Council Rehabilitation Work
Canadian Disability Participation Project
Canadian Hard of Hearing Association
CNIB Foundation
Communication Disabilities Access Canada
Council of Canadians with Disabilities
DisAbled Women’s Network of Canada / Réseau d’Action des Femmes Handicapées du Canada (DAWN-RAFH Canada)
Easter Seals Canada
Empower, The Disability Resource Centre
Every Canadian Counts Coalition
Family Support Institute of BC
Inclusion BC
Inclusion Winnipeg Inc.
Independent Living Canada
Independent Living Nova Scotia
L’Arche Canada
March of Dimes Canada
Muscular Dystrophy Canada
National Network of Mental Health
People First of Canada
Pooran Law
Quebec Accessible
Rick Hansen Foundation
Spinal Cord Injury BC
Spinal Cord Injury Canada
The Living in Place Campaign
The Older Women’s Network

Please note: This document is available in an alternative format as required. Contact leanne@abilitiesmanitoba.org for assistance.

COVID19 Forum and Resources

Photo of someone washing their hands
Washing your hands and avoiding touching your face is one of the main things you can do to protect yourself.

In an effort to provide help and assistance to all those organizations working to deal with the impacts of the COVID19 pandemic, we have put together a listing of resources which we will continue to add to and update. We have also created a forum where you can post questions and information with each other. If you have resources to share with others, please link them in the forum and/or email to them to leanne@abilitiesmanitoba.org #WeAreBetterTogether

Click for Access to the Discussion Forum

Click for Access to the Resource Listing


NEW!!    Template letters for requesting accommodation for: 

Priority access at retail outlets

Accessing hospitals as an Essential Care Partner

Key Points for Messaging

Your New Normal Workbook

ImagineAbility Food Service

Need/Have Staff to be Deployed

Orientation for Re-Deployed Staff:

Video Version

Printable Version



Employment and Income Assistance Consultation

The Province has announced consultations  for a new income support program for people with disabilities. They are seeking online feedback until January 31. We have put the survey into a document and added items you may want to consider as you respond to the survey.

It is critical that impacted citizens contribute their opinions on this important issue. Please support people to complete the online survey or assist to input their comments from the word document into the online survey.

Some ideas:

  • hold focus groups with people you support and compile all feedback into a single online response.
  • distribute this email to stakeholders connected to your agency and impacted by the current EIA system. This could include families, staff, board members, people you support.
  • brainstorm with your staff teams on ways to get people involved and contributing to this important discussion.
  • Share the survey link on your social media.

Thanks in advance; it would be amazing to see a large amount of responses to help design a separate income stream and is dignified, accessible and improves quality of life for people utilizing it. Remember the deadline is January 31!

We are looking for YOU!

Image description: Woman looking directly into the camera through binocolars

If you are curious about people, passionate about quality services and have always put people at ease, we are looking for you!

As part of the upcoming Personal Outcome Measures pilot project we are hiring two people!  The successful candidates will be trained as Certified Interviewers/Trainers in the use of Personal Outcome Measures and will spend a year interviewing people with intellectual disabilities along with those that love and support them. We think this is a pretty cool opportunity! Find out more in the Quality Specialist Posting. Closes November 19th, 2019.