March 10, 2021
Treaty 1 Territory, Homeland of the Métis Nation, Winnipeg MB—The Pallister Conservatives have frozen funding to disability services for children for the last two years, despite a growing number of children in need of supports and children on the waitlist for services.
“It is important that every Manitoban, whether they have additional needs or not, feel included and supported so that they can succeed in life. That's why it's so important Children's disABILITY Services are properly funded so that kids with profound needs can reach success,” said NDP Leader Wab Kinew. “Yetthe Conservative government has frozen funding for the program, while waitlists expand to nearly 5,000. It’s inexcusable. These kids deserve a government that meets their funding needs every year.”
Government documents, obtained through FIPPA, show the Conservative government has refused to increase funding for Children’s disABILITY Services, a program which provides in-home supports and funding for children with developmental and physical additional needs. Funding remained stagnant for the years 2019/20 and 2020/21, despite the number of children accessing the program increasing by more than 150 each year.
The documents note the cost of therapy services and the number of children on the waitlist to access services “have steadily increased”. There are now 4,900 children on the waitlist, 3,600 of which are pre-schoolers. These children require supports “to address crucial areas, including speaking, swallowing, picking up items, walking, getting dressed and using specialized equipment”. According to the note “children wait between a few months and over two years depending on the service and region”.
Yesterday in the Legislature, Mr. Kinew raised the freeze to the Premier in Question Period. Rather than address funding levels for Children Disability Services, the Premier reverted to partisan accusations about an entirely different topic.
“It’s disappointing, but not surprising, to see the Premier attempt to dodge his record of cuts rather than speak directly to children and their families,” said Kinew. “He dodges it because he knows there is no justification for such callous actions. He puts his agenda of cuts above all else –even children with exceptional needs.”