Funding crisis shutters agency for people with disabilities
Ninette's Southwest Community Options can’t keep staff with current provincial funding, will close
An organization that helps people who have mental disabilities in Ninette will close its doors in June due to a lack of funding.
Southwest Community Options provides residential services for 30 people and day services for many more considered vulnerable.
The closure of the agency means all 30 people will have to move and more than 100 will lose their jobs.
The main issue is funding for staff wages, according to Ron McCullough, the organization’s executive director.
He said the province needs to up the funding for wages in order for them to keep staff.
“Province funds a wage rate of $12.06 an hour for support workers and that doesn’t give us what we need to retain and attract [employees] in the market we’re in,” he said.
Beth Clark, chair of the agency’s board, said most hospital aides make $15 per hour, so the organization has had trouble with staffing.
“I’m just at a loss as to why the government policy doesn’t live up to what their expectations are,” said Clark.
Sharon Bremmer has worked at the agency since 2000, when it opened. She said she’s disappointed the province hasn’t come up with the cash to pay workers more to stay in the small community.
“There sure is money for other funding within the province for other projects that give them beautiful photo ops,” said Bremmer.
Provincial officials said they are reviewing the funding model for residential and day services in Manitoba.