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:

We created a modified ad to acknowledge the inclusion of DSPs  in the Risk Recognition Program and it can be seen here:

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!

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


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.

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.