The Possibility Post: Where the rubber hits the road to quality!

People jumping behind the words "It's not what we have, but who we have" By Winnie the PoohThis week is Direct Support Professional (DSP) Week and in pausing to honour the important and impactful work of DSPs in our Province, we reflect on their considerable contribution to the quality of life of the people they serve every day.

John F. Kennedy Jr., wrote, “Quality is defined at the point of interaction between the staff member and the individual with a disability.” Indeed, Direct Support Professionals define quality in every personal interaction they have each day. People with developmental disabilities work to fully contribute as valued members of their communities. The availability of qualified, competent, and stable Direct Support Professionals plays an important role in supporting people to accomplish these goals. To be successful, it is critical that DSPs have the competence, confidence, and ethical decision-making skills with the guidance necessary to provide quality support.

Continue reading “The Possibility Post: Where the rubber hits the road to quality!”

Sign the petition to improve wages for Direct Support Staff!


Since the inception of community living, wages for direct support staff have been a chronic issue. We are calling on the Province to improve funding for wages for direct support staff. Sign the petition here:

CBC News Stories June 2015

Non-profit agencies in Manitoba have been pressing the provincial government for years to increase funding so they can pay higher wages and attract or retain staff.


Former Government Manager Criticizes Family Services   CBC June 2, 2015


Non-profits that care for clients with disabilities say they’re in crisis –  CBC Report June 1, 2015


 InfoGraphic on Expectations of Direct Support Worker   CBC June 1, 2015


Abilities Manitoba Position on the Stories

Many of us cringed when the media quoted “(agencies) have been forced to hire untrained or incompetent staff due to an inability to compete with other employers at current funding levels.”   Abilities Manitoba does not believe that our thousands of employees are incompetent. 

 Due to the low wages currently offered in our sector it is challenging to hire people from the outset who are trained and experienced in our sector.  There are also examples where the pool of potential staff is slim to non-existent due to wages offered by other industries.  However, this does not equate to incompetence. We know agencies spend incredible time and resources providing training to ensure staff are equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills. 

 We also want to recognize and commend all the Direct Support Professionals who provide such critical and high quality supports throughout the province. We honour those, who despite low wages, continue to provide continuity and help ensure a good quality of life for adults with intellectual disabilities. We recognize the value of the work you do and want you to know that wages and training are high priorities for Abilities Manitoba.

 Minister Irvin-Ross was quoted as saying “One of the issues we need to talk about in the rural areas: amalgamation.” This too raised some concerns with member agencies.  Abilities Manitoba recognizes the value and diversity that the member agencies offer throughout the province. Diversity in missions and services means that individuals with intellectual disabilities and their families have choices.  Our member agencies are of varying size and structure and we are in support of the diversity this offers Manitoba. We will endeavour seek clarification from the Minister on this comment at our meeting on June 16th.

 Though we may not agree with all messages being sent through the media, the fact the issue is getting out to the public is a great success. It starts a dialogue where one did not exist before. We appreciate the efforts of Westman Parkland Network in creating a forum for these discussions. We are discussing launching a public awareness campaign in the near future and see this media coverage as an opportunity to build momentum.

 Also note that though I have been contacted twice by CBC and provided comments in keeping with our messages above, the content was not aired.  We have not been silent on the issues.     Jennifer Hagedorn, President


It’s Not Coal, but Disability Support Workers Will Not Be Getting Any Gifts This Christmas


It’s Not Coal, but Disability Support Workers Will Not Be Getting Any Gifts This Christmas

(MANITOBA, December 19, 2014) Low staff wages mean significant risk to our most vulnerable citizens ,  adults living with intellectual disabilities, through high staff turnover, staff shortages and difficulty recruiting workers with relevant knowledge and skills.

“My son is vulnerable and depends on Disability Support Workers for all of his care, including bathing, meal preparation, and helping him to participate in the community. This is not a job that just anyone can do. It takes skill, compassion and dedication,” said Arlene Bodnar.

The Province’s Wage Enhancement Fund, announced in August, was a good first step but it’s not nearly enough to resolve the wages crisis. Today’s announcement by the Province on the Wage Enhancement Fund roll-out confirms the measures are inadequate.

“Collectively, we are very disappointed in this band-aid solution. We have made it clear to the Minister of Family Services that we need a comprehensive plan to provide a professional wage for this industry,” said Malinda Roberts, President of Abilities Manitoba. Respite, independent living and day services staff are excluded from the Wage Enhancement Fund.

“Disability Support Workers are responsible for ensuring personal safety, medical care, personal care, nutrition, recreation and support to build bridges and form connections in their community. It is a skilled job that is way undervalued. The Minister of Manitoba Family Services needs to rectify this unacceptable situation with the introduction of professional and equitable wages for all Disability Support Workers,”  said Roberts.