The Manitoba government is establishing a new task force and appointing a special advisor to the minister to improve services for adults with intellectual disabilities, Families Minister Heather Stefanson announced today.
“Our government is committed to making Manitoba a better place, which includes ensuring that Manitobans with disabilities have as much independence and ability to make decisions as possible,” said Stefanson. “This new task force will review policies and practices affecting adults with intellectual disabilities to ensure we can achieve this goal. The new special advisor to my office will also provide an important perspective and help guide our government’s work on a broad range of issues.”
The task force will work with community experts to develop a strategy to encourage supported decision-making and a two-year action plan to reduce reliance on substitute decision-makers for adults with intellectual disabilities. They will also review issues such as community engagement and the roles of community services workers and public guardians.
Members of the task force include:
• chair – Dale Kendel, former executive director of Community Living Manitoba;
• Margo Powell, executive director, Abilities Manitoba;
• Scott Smith, director, Pulford Community Living Services;
• Irene Hamilton, former provincial ombudsman;
• Susan Boulter, member, Vulnerable Persons Hearing Panel Roster;
• John Leggat, chief executive officer, St.Amant; and
• Janice Morley-Lecomte, MLA Seine River.
Much of the work of the task force will focus on the Vulnerable Persons Living With a Mental Disability Act, which establishes the framework for provincial services for adults with intellectual disabilities.
“We have assembled a knowledgeable group to review eight areas under the act, which came into law in 1996 and was last reviewed in 2007,” said Kendel. “We will endeavour to produce a plan for the minister within six months that will improve practices in the field. This is an exciting opportunity and I congratulate the minister for her leadership on this issue.”
Stefanson has appointed Jessica Croy as her special advisor on issues affecting Manitobans with disabilities. Croy, who has an intellectual disability, is excited to share her lived experience, and to discuss issues and questions raised by people with disabilities.
“I am looking forward to sharing my ideas with the minister and the province,” said Croy, who is also president of the Selkirk chapter of People First, and first vice-president of People First Manitoba, an organization that advocates for people with intellectual disabilities. “There are a lot of things to discuss about living with a disability and they are important to many people in Manitoba. People with disabilities are the experts about our lives and have a lot to share.”
The minister and Croy held their first quarterly meeting today.