Disability agency in financial hot water hopeful provincial funding will be restored

By | August 15, 2019

A Manitoba organization that helps people with disabilities may need to close its doors after going without the provincial funding it was accustomed to, its leaders say.

Whitney Hodgins, the provincial council secretary for the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities, said the organization has struggled to survive since it learned in 2017 of the cutback worth $50,000 per year.

Last year, the organization said it had to lay off staff and reduce remaining staff to part-time hours. 

The MLPD is a non-profit organization that advocates for and promotes the full participation of people with disabilities in society. It recently branched out into education and social enterprise work, including helping organizations become compliant with the Accessibility for Manitobans Act.

However, the budget shrunk considerably and the organization is in dire financial straits, Hodgins said.

“If we don’t have that funding we’re not able to be at that table to represent people with disabilities the way that we need to,” Hodgins said. “We’ve been doing everything we can to stay open for our constituents, unfortunately that’s coming to a point where we can no longer sustain ourselves to be able to do that.”

Hodgins said without the money for the provincial government, the agency likely won’t survive past November.

Hopeful for the future

Fred Dugdale, the provincial council treasurer for the MLPD said he’s hopeful the organization will have its funding reinstated following the provincial election next month.

He told CBC News he got the impression from the Ministry of Family the MLPD is about to get its provincial funding back.

CBC News contacted Minister Heather Stefanson’s office to confirm this on Wednesday afternoon, but hadn’t received a response by Thursday evening.

In the meantime, remaining staff and volunteers at MLPD said they’re pinching pennies wherever they can to stay open as long as possible.

“We’re being very careful and very realistic and we’re looking at a deficit position. Even as it stands, it’s tight. We’re literally watching very carefully money coming in and avoiding any kind of commitments or spending. We just don’t have the money there,” Dugdale said.

Hodgins said the volunteers and staff are working hard to keep the organization open and fighting for the Accessibility for Manitobans Act, but are worried for their constituents.

“It’s critical we keep our organization and other organizations that are fighting for it (the Accessibility for Manitobans Act) open so that we can do the work to ensure people have equitable opportunities throughout our province,” Hodgins said.