Archived News Releases

News Release - Manitoba

June 3, 2014

Province Announces Pilot Program to Increase Educational, Employment Opportunities for Manitobans with Intellectual Disabilities

Provincial Government, Red River College Mark Access Awareness Week with New Program to Create Education, Employment Opportunities: Minister Howard

A new pilot program at Red River College (RRC) this fall will provide individuals with intellectual disabilities new educational opportunities focused on successful transitions into good jobs, Finance Minister Jennifer Howard, the minister responsible for persons with disabilities, announced today.

“This new program is an excellent way to improve accessibility to education while supporting the government’s goal to grow the workforce by 75,000 workers,” said Minister Howard.  “Once students complete the program, they will be better positioned to take advantage of job opportunities and build a strong future here in Manitoba.”

The 20-student Transforming Futures program will begin in September 2014 and will include hands-on learning in career exploration, essential employability skills and full integration into RRC programming if a student chooses this option.

“Red River College’s vision aligns with the goals of this program:  to enable all students to build a career, enhance quality of life and contribute to Manitoba’s economic and social prosperity through exceptional applied education and research,” said Stephanie Forsyth, president and chief executive officer, Red River College.  “This is the largest college in the province, and we are uniquely positioned to deliver accessible, innovative programming for students with intellectual disabilities and, with the financial support by the province and support of community champions and private donors, this pilot project is ready for launch.”

A 2013 report from the Canadian Association for Community Living estimated that 70 per cent of adults with intellectual disabilities are unemployed or out of the labour force, and are also three times more likely than non-disabled Canadians to live in poverty.  RRC will be working closely with employers to ensure the program leads to successful job matches for graduates.

“At Bison Transport and the Jessiman Foundation, we are honoured to be supporters of the Transforming Futures program,” said Peter Jessiman, president, Wescan Capital Inc.  “This is one of the most innovative initiatives we have seen in years and we believe it will fundamentally transform the lives of its participants.  We applaud the Government of Manitoba for seeing and supporting the incredible potential of this program and, as a large Manitoba-based employer, look forward to the opportunity of having the graduates working in our organization.”

“We are working closely with employers and educational institutions to make sure that all Manitobans can benefit from the province’s low unemployment rate and steady economic growth,” said Minister Howard.  “Removing barriers and increasing accessibility to education is one key way to ensure Manitobans have the opportunity to take part and further strengthen the workforce.”

The Manitoba government is providing $266,000 to support the pilot program, the minister said.  Registration for the new program will begin June 9 and more information can be found at

Minister Howard added Manitoba’s commitment to disability inclusion recently became law.  The building blocks of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act are accessibility standards that apply to public and private sectors, and target the five areas of customer service, information and communication, transportation, employment and the built environment. 

Consultations on the customer service standard will be held on Tuesday, June 17 by webcast and in-person from 1 to 4 p.m. as well asWednesday, June 18 (in-person only) from 1 to 4 p.m. at the Best Western Plus Airport Hotel at 1715 Wellington Ave. in Winnipeg.  Registration each day is at 12:30 p.m.

The minister made the announcements during Manitoba Access Awareness Week, celebrated annually to raise awareness of the barriers facing Manitobans with disabilities.  Individuals with disabilities, organizations and business are encouraged to find ways to prevent and remove barriers to a full and inclusive society.

Details about the Accessibility for Manitobans Act, consultations on the proposed customer service standard and Manitoba Access Awareness Week events are available at

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