Cuts to Families Department Hurts Front Line Services in a Pandemic

February 2, 2021

Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg MB – The PC government left hundreds of staff positions unfilled within their Department of Families, making it harder for Manitoba families to access essential services like child care, EIA and housing in the pandemic. Documents obtained by the Manitoba NDP through Freedom of Information requests show the department had 444 fewer positions at the start of the pandemic—a 22% vacancy rate.

“That fact that the PCs have understaffed one of their most front line departments in the middle of the pandemic, when so many families are relying on it to help them survive lockdowns, is evidence that regular families are at the bottom of this government’s priority list,” said NDP critic for Status of Women Malaya Marcelino. “Since the start of the pandemic we’ve seen children in care, child care programs, families in search of affordable housing, and unemployed Manitobans struggle to access support and services from this government. It turns out the PCs have kept that department understaffed on purpose.”

The Families Department employs hundreds of frontline workers who provide critical front line services to Manitobans. Among other things, the department is responsible for Childcare, Child and Family Services, the Family Violence Prevention Program, Manitoba Housing, Employment and Income Assistance and the province’s Poverty Reduction Strategy.

According to government documents, the department had 444 empty positions in March, nearly a quarter of the department’s 2069 capacity.

“Families are paying for the PC’s cost-cutting measures and it’s not right,” said Marcelino. “Minister Squires needs to explain to Manitobans why her government is making it harder for families to access the supports they need in this difficult time and commit to hiring more frontline staff immediately to ease the burden on families.”