Major Changes and Long Wait Lists at Manitoba Housing
Dec 06, 2019
Manitoba Housing and its future were debated at the Manitoba Legislature in the closing week of the most recent legislative session. The MLA for St. Boniface questioned the Minister of Families, Heather Stefanson, about the growing wait list at Manitoba Housing that has jumped by 1,600 since January of this year. The Minister responded by citing all the investments made to Rent Assist and how they are “partnering with stakeholders who know best how to deliver services."
“Our members were listening and the response is a slap in the face and disingenuous,” said MGEU President Michelle Gawronsky. “Manitoba Housing has trained quality staff with access to a broad range of supports for low-income families and tenants. And, Rent Assist is not something that those in Manitoba Housing are accessing, rather it is Employment and Income Assistance.”
Manitoba Housing members were also recently told that even more changes are coming that will affect services and potentially eliminate their jobs. Procurement Services will be centralized within the civil service and we are now learning the same is planned for Asset Management, and Capital Planning.
“The long-term direction from this government to contract out the direct management of Manitoba Housing units to either non-profit agencies, or for-profit agencies will result in job cuts and cuts to services for tenants,” Gawronsky said. “Our tenant service coordinators are social workers who assist tenants with navigating policies, and services such as mental health and addiction supports. As well, our trades staff provide a reduced cost for capital projects and up-keep of the units, along with pest control and security. All these services will be lost when transferred to outside agencies.”
President Gawronsky noted that she has written to the Minister regarding the concerns raised by members and has requested a meeting before more change and chaos is inflicted on workers and tenants at Manitoba Housing.
“We fear that the changes being made don’t take into
account the unique needs of individuals and families,” Gawronsky added. “It’s about more than subsidies and rent;
take away these supports, and these families may not have the resources they
need to get by. Manitoba Housing is able to provide service with consistent
standards, and is able to ensure enhanced accountability to tenants."