Press Release July 2nd 2015

In response to Community Living disAbility Services Media Release June 29, 2015, Abilities Manitoba has issued the following to the media:

PRESS RELEASE

STAFF WAGE INCREASE NOT FOR ALL

(MANITOBA July 2, 2015) The Province of Manitoba’s announcement to increase entry-level wages for Direct Support Professionals continues to leave out key groups of staff who work with day programs, supported employment services, respite and supported independent living services. The Wage Enhancement fund continues to be focused solely on starting wages for residential services. “We need a more comprehensive strategy. This announcement shifts the spotlight to day services, supported independent living and respite support professionals. Those employers will have an increasingly difficult time attracting and retaining employees. It is already challenging at times and this simply intensifies the situation”, said Margo Powell, Executive Director of Abilities Manitoba, the collective of 70 plus agencies province wide that has been working with government to improve the wages and professionalize the sector.

In addition to excluding important subsectors of service, the Wage Enhancement Fund continues to address only one piece of the wage issue. With the increase to entry-level staff wages in residential services for adults with intellectual disabilities, a new Direct Support Professional can be earning the same amount as a 15 year veteran.

“Residential support staff absolutely deserve an increase and to be recognized for the critical work they do. However, wage increases need to be implemented in a well thought out and sustainable way that includes all direct support staff. Currently, this is a temporary fund that has no means to become permanent. It places many pressures on agencies that have staff who have worked for many years and are now earning the same as someone just being hired. We can’t settle for a partial fix when what’s needed is across the board compensation that is respectful of the value of the work.” said Ms. Powell.

Abilities Manitoba has been meeting with the Province to work through all of the recommendations of a comprehensive stakeholder report with 5 key recommendations, one of which is addressing wage issues.

Abilities Manitoba has asked the Province to specifically address:

  • Inclusion of all Direct Support Professionals, including day services, respite and supported independent living staff.
  • Wage increases to all staff levels to address compression issues and encourage staff retention.
  • Ongoing, permanent funding for wage increases as the Wage Enhancement Fund is a temporary fund.

“This is critical work being done by very committed, skilled and caring people and it needs to be recognized,” said Ms. Powell. “We are looking for the Province to value individuals with intellectual disabilities and all staff who support them. The increase is a place to start but needs to include all support workers. We need to continue to address wages and raise them to an acceptable standard.”

Direct Support Professionals are responsible for ensuring personal safety, medical care, personal care, nutrition, employment and volunteer supports, recreation and support to build bridges and form connections in their community.