Introducing the Accessible Customer Service standard: a part of the Accessibility for Manitobans Act
Written by: CPHR Manitoba
When you read the term “barrier”, what comes to mind?
[Take a moment to close your eyes and think about what a barrier means to you]
How about “types of barriers” – including negative, presumable or judgmental attitudes; lack of communication; physical challenges; technological issues; or systematic failures?
[Take another moment to think while observing your surroundings]
Barriers are all around us and affect all of us. Some individuals may be stronger communicators but may not understand certain advances in technology; others may be physically able to walk into a room but are held back by a negative attitude, filled with presumptions and judgements, that prevents them from meeting others.
Now take a moment to think, “what if I had a disability” – could you overcome those barriers the same way you would normally approach them? It depends – are you visually-impaired, suffer from a mental health condition, or physically disabled? There are many factors at play here, in this thought-process alone, and unfortunately over 200,000 Manitobans are living with some form of a disability and facing different types of barriers every single day.
The fact is: we need to remove the barriers and create accessibility for all Manitobans.
The Accessibility for Manitobans Act (AMA) provides a clear and proactive process for the identification, prevention and removal of barriers with respect to five key pillars, customer service, employment, information and communications, transportation and the built environment.
The first standard to be implemented under AMA is the Accessible Customer Service standard. This standard is built on the requirements of the Human Rights Code and addresses business practices and training needed to provide better customer service for people with disabilities.
Fred Dugdale, Board Treasurer at the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities and Manitoba Brain Injury Association who suffers from a Traumatic Brain Injury, says that the hardest barrier to overcome is attitude.
“When learning about the Accessibility for Manitobans Act and reviewing your current workplace environment, you have to be realistic and find a way where this works for everyone. People that can work, will work – you just need to find a middle ground where your measures, practices and requirements to identify, prevent and remove barriers are a win-win for everyone,” says Dugdale. “The investment you make to remove barriers will bring long-term benefits and cater to all colleagues and clients in your workplace.”
The deadlines for compliance is structured under a three-year period – Manitoba Government (November 2016), large public sector organizations (November 2017), and companies/organizations in the public, private and not-for-profit sectors (November 2018).
To assist you in the review and development of your workplace policies and practices that will welcome and serve everyone, CPHR Manitoba and the Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities have partnered to present the Accessibility for Manitobans Act – First of Five Standards: The Customer Service Standard workshop.
The workshop will cover an overview of the AMA legislation with a focus on the Customer Service Standard, review and compare the AMA with the Manitoba Human Rights Code, identify your organizational responsibilities and learn the key principles to offering accessible customer service in your workplace.
The Accessibility for Manitobans Act – First of Five Standards: The Customer Service Standard workshop takes place on Tuesday, November 13, from 8:30 a.m. – noon at the Viscount Gort Hotel in Winnipeg. Registration fees are $150/CPHR Manitoba members and $200/non-members. To register, visit cphrmb.ca. Registration deadline is November 8.
Have you been in business for a few years and are looking to expand your business? Do you want practical advice to reach the next level in your journey? Are you looking for an opportunity to strengthen your knowledge, acquire new tools, and expand your network? Then we have a great event for you!
The WCC has collaborated with BDC to bring their WE Talk Business Boot Camp to Winnipeg on November 6, 2018 at the Winnipeg Art Gallery.
These free events, led by BDC, run across Canada with a simple purpose: to bring together women entrepreneurs (WE) who want to talk about business and grow their business.
This one-day intensive program, created by women entrepreneurs, for women entrepreneurs, offers practical advice on leadership, money, sales, marketing, and human resources - all with a focus on growth.
The Boot Camps are also hosted by two extraordinary professionals who are passionate about helping women entrepreneurs advance - Janice McDonald (@janicemcd), an award-winning entrepreneur also President of the Beacon Agency and Clare Beckton (@ownit_clare), Executive in residence at the Centre for Research and Education on Women and Work at Carleton University.
BDC is bringing together key players such as the Chartered Professional Accountants and Export Development Canada to help facilitate the day’s content. And, BDC is working closely with regional organizations like WCC, to plan the day so that women entrepreneurs can focus on issues and opportunities that are relevant to them.
As Canada’s only bank dedicated to entrepreneurs, BDC has made it their mission to support the growth and success of female entrepreneurs. Statistics tell us that only 16% of small and medium-sized businesses are majority women-owned. BDC wants to change that and has already started through some of the following initiatives:
Do not wait! The event is free, and seats are limited. Please share this event with any women in your network that you think would benefit or register today if you are ready to take your business to the next stage.
BDC’s WE Talk Business Boot Camp
Date: November 6, 2018
Time: 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Location: Winnipeg Art Gallery
300 Memorial Boulevard
Attendees must register HERE by October 26th.
On October 17, Canada will become the first G7 country to fully legalize recreational cannabis. Is your business ready?
Here are 5 impacts that the legalization of cannabis will have on the workplace:
1. Safety concerns
Despite cannabis legalization, adult cannabis use is not new. However, employers are concerned that with legalization a subsequent increased use will impact the workplace. Safety concerns include employees operating motor vehicles and employees using heavy machinery while under the influence of cannabis.
2. Alcohol, drug policies and testing
Cannabis is already the most commonly encountered substance in workplace drug testing, but with legalization, its use is expected to grow. Employers have the right to regulate cannabis use at work, and employees have the right to a safe workplace. It’s important to communicate any changes made to alcohol and drug policies, and focus on treatment and recovery during disciplinary actions.
3. Drug use or dependence
Due to legalization, experts expect a rise in recreational cannabis use. Effects of cannabis on individuals vary widely depending on numerous factors, so it’s important to educate employees on its effects and any new workplace policies.
4. Medicinal cannabis use
Because many people use cannabis for medical reasons, it’s important to clearly outline your workplace policies on cannabis while being cognisant of those who require cannabis to treat or relieve the symptoms of a disability. As an employer, you need to accommodate your employees’ needs and that may include the use of medicinal cannabis.
5. Problematic drug use or dependence
Just because cannabis is being legalized, it does not mean it’s a license for poor behaviour. Cannabis use can become problematic for many reasons, such as when workplace performance and attendance decreases. Employers should prepare for a potential rise in problematic cannabis use and dependence in the workplace.
In this world of acronyms in which we live, learn, and work, information can easily get lost in translation. For many of you, this headline was probably a breeze: Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology (MITT) is hosting the upcoming Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce (WCC) After Business Mixer (ABM).
But what about the up-and-coming generation of professionals who will fuel your businesses and Manitoba’s labour force? They can have all the technical skills in the world but if they can’t comprehend the language of industry (acronyms and all) how can they succeed?
At MITT, we get this. And it’s why we’re a leader in Manitoba when it comes to providing integrated essential and employability skills in every program we offer. Our graduates enter the workforce adept, adaptable, and ready for the realities of their professions.
On Sept. 26, we invite WCC members to enhance their ABM experience by touring our campus, meeting our executive, instructors, students, and staff, and learning first-hand about MITT’s holistic approach to training for careers in trades and technology.
It’s a brand new academic year so bring your business acumen, your networking expertise, and your insatiable curiosity to campus and get ready to learn more about MITT, what we do, and how we can help you.
For WCC members who can’t join us on the 26th, scroll down to brush up on MITT and feel free to connect with us any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.
MITT provides certificate, post-graduate, and diploma-level technical training for career-oriented post-secondary and secondary students in four specialized areas:
For more than 30 years, industry collaboration has been our forte. Together, we identify skills gaps—both technical and soft—develop curriculum to meet them, and create work practicum opportunities that help students build connections with prospective employers while they learn. We also provide comprehensive career development support, based on industry feedback, to prospective and current students as well as graduates, and we’re a leading provider of continuing education and workforce development opportunities through our Lifelong Learning Institute.
The learning environment at MITT supports the academic, professional, and personal success of our students, led by industry veteran instructors who teach, mentor, and serve as students’ industry connection points. Our campus community is a safe and inviting place where students from around the world can easily access the information and resources they need to excel in their programs and successfully bridge from the classroom to a career.
At MITT, we also offer several unique pathway programs for adult and language learners, including:
After Business Mixer
Wednesday, September 26
5:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Manitoba Institute of Trades and Technology (MITT)
130 Henlow Bay
BOOTHS: $175 (Members only)
For additional questions, you can reach our Director of Events, Elizabeth Cron, at 204-944-3308 or by email email@example.com.
The Winnipeg Chamber: What’s your story? Why did you both found Montessori?
Kristen Shipman: Megan Turner and I were both hard working mothers who were in need of quality early childhood education for our children. Much research was conducted and we were certain we wanted our children to have an authentic Montessori experience, in order to give then the best foot forward for their academic future.
Megan Turner: We found this was not something easily accessible. It was then we decided to build our own authentic Montessori preschool centre, creating 32 new childcare spaces for families in Winnipeg. We knew in our hearts there were other families who shared the same desire and only wanted the best for their children
WC: Manitoba struggles with early childhood literacy and numeracy. What should parents look for in a childcare centre when it comes to daily learning? What’s your approach?
KS: Parents should research the educational curriculum that is followed by the school. Traditional childcare centres follow a play based emergent curriculum, focusing on free play, with less of an emphasis on academics.
At Making Roots Montessori Centre we follow an authentic Montessori curriculum designed specifically for our preschool, exposing children to Practical Life, Sensorial, Math, Language, Culture, music and yoga. We offer an Art program featuring artists and composers of the month, a French immersion Montessori curriculum and a French Immersion Kindergarten. All custom designed for our preschool and the needs of our students.
Manitoba currently has the lowest school readiness in the nation. We foster individual growth in each child, in order to best prepare them for school and foster their natural drive for learning. The Montessori method lays the foundations for literacy and numeracy, as well as promotes brain development, builds confidence, independence, and attention span.
WC: As a location relatively close to downtown, most of your parents must work in the core. How do you stay flexible to business people’s schedules?
MT: Making Roots Montessori Centre operates year round, with minimal closures. We are open from 7:30am-5:30pm in order to accommodate working families. Parents are provided with an annual calendar, so they are aware of any closures far in advance.
We service a variety of areas, such as Sage Creek, Southdale, South Transcona, Island Lakes, St.Boniface, and Windsor Park. We also have students from as far as Wolseley and River Park South, as their parents felt Making Roots was the best fit for their family.
WC: What’s the best feedback you’ve ever received from a parent?
KS: We truly love hearing parents feel 100 per cent comfortable knowing that their children are happy, safe, engaged, and learning while they are with us. We often hear from parents that Making Roots feels like a family.
MT: Many childcare centres appear to be focussed on “care," which is critical for all children. However, at Making Roots Montessori we are a pre-school offering not only quality care, but an environment of learning. Many families continue to realize the readiness of their children once they commence grade school, having the Making Roots Montessori foundation prepares them for a head start in early grades.
WC: If you could ask for one change to how childcare works in Manitoba, what would it be?
KS: It would be for the Province to allow Inclusion workers for children with disabilities to work in private child care settings. Currently, Manitoba will only fund Inclusion workers in non-profit centres. This is taking the choice away from families. Montessori was initially designed for children with disabilities; the Montessori environment would allow these children to flourish.
Every month, we ask different participants of our Leadership Winnipeg class to blog about their experience..
Our visit to the University of Manitoba began with a warm welcome from John Kearsey, Vice-President (External). To capture our full experience of the day ahead he asked us to answer questions about our current impressions of the University.
Many of the Leadership Winnipeg participants are U of M Alumni, including myself. For some, it’s been a while since graduation. I was intrigued to see how our impressions might shift after a day up close and behind the scenes.
Where leaders are made
“You start leading long before you get a title.” Erica Jung
The session began with Dr. David Barnard, President and Vice-Chancellor at the U of M, who launched a panel discussion by stressing that leadership can be taught. Developing leaders through education is a prime goal at the university.
Erica Jung, Associate Director, Centre for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning, further expanded on how her team works with university teaching staff to shape future leaders, helping them to develop their thinking through deeper exploration of topics and social issues.
A university acts as an anchor for an economically vibrant city by training highly qualified people and helping them develop critical thinking skills. Research expenditures are an investment in the future of society and the economy. Dr. Digvir Jayas, Vice-President (Research and International), stressed that businesses continue to grow because of ongoing research and without it they are likely to atrophy. The top 15 universities in Canada conduct 85% of the research. The University of Manitoba is among the U15 making it very attractive for future students, faculty and industry.
The University also takes a leadership role in reconciliation. Dr. Wanda Wuttunee, Professor, Department of Native Studies, discussed the continued focus to develop Indigenous education programs at the university.
Making and testing foods and nutraceuticals
Dr. Rotimi Aluko, conducted a tour of the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals, where we were introduced to top facilities for researching, testing and manufacturing food and nutraceutical products. Nutraceuticals are foods containing health-giving additives with medicinal benefits such as supplements.
If you have a recipe for a new supplement you can create it, test it, manufacture the powder and tablets, coat them to make them easier to swallow, bottle, label and package them. All in the same facility.
If you need an audience to taste test your creation, the Centre’s kitchen and lab enables recipes to be tested by humans, or you can use the facility’s artificial stomach, tongue and nose. Seeing the machines that take the place of our natural human taste testers piqued my curiosity. I had never thought about this part of the process and was surprised to see these artificial culinary aficionados.
During lunch we were engaged by a panel who lead some of the University’s many outreach programs:
Living with robots in the Human-Computer Interaction Lab
On our tour of the Lab we were introduced to graduate students and one of their human-like robot companions, Peggy. Although Peggy was not fully running through a program, she seemed completely aware that we were in the room. If we ignored her too long, she’d pipe up with a cheerful “Hi!”, which made a few of us jump.
Our student hosts showed us how progressive robotic research is at the U of M and helped us think of how robots can enhance our lives, freeing up humans to do more creative work or work that requires interpersonal soft skills. Imagine Peggy being your information guide in a shopping mall helping you find the right store or product, or working with autistic children in a teaching capacity.
We were moved
At the end of our day John Kearsey met with us again to engage our group in thoughtful conversation around the University and its prominent role in our province. He asked us the same questions he had at the start of our day. What is our impression of the University now that we’ve had a behind the scenes view? And what three words first come to mind when we think of the University of Manitoba?
From the time we set our feet on university soil to the end of our information-filled day we were indeed moved from seeing the University as a ‘Big’ ‘Educational’ ‘Institution’ (our earlier top three words) to a place of ‘Community’ where ‘Research’ and ‘Innovation’ are front and centre (our top three by the end of the day).
It was an insightful day giving us all greater awareness of the University of Manitoba’s impact on our city, our province and the global stage.
Leadership Winnipeg is grateful for the support of our Vision Partners
Every month, we ask different participants of our Leadership Winnipeg class to blog about their experience...
Are leaders born or made? Our sixth session of Leadership Winnipeg began with a welcome by Dr. David Barnard, President and Vice-Chancellor at the University of Manitoba, where he emphasized that leadership can be both taught and learned.
It is fitting that we spent a full day at the University of Manitoba, as this institution is dedicated to both educating leaders as well as providing an environment where innovation and leadership can thrive. Throughout the day, we were given a backstage pass with access to the university’s leaders and a behind-the-scenes tour of the cutting edge research taking place at the University of Manitoba.
Our morning featured insights into leadership within the university as an organization, with Dr. Barnard explaining the university’s governance structure. He explained some of the challenges that face leaders within the university given the size of the organization, the number of stakeholders involved, and the governance processes in place.
While these processes can lead to slower decisions, they are also important to maintain values such as academic freedom. In particular, I was struck by the importance of consensus-building to leadership. At the university, this takes on the form of consultations and debate among the governing bodies, however, consensus-building can also be an important tool for effective leadership elsewhere.
The second part of our day provided a window into the important research being done at the University of Manitoba. Dr. Digvir Jayas, Vice-President (Research and International), spoke with us about how research is critical to economic growth. One of the ways the university fosters this economic growth is by partnering with both new entrepreneurs and established companies.
We had an opportunity to see this in action by touring the Richardson Centre for Functional Foods and Nutraceuticals. Here, researchers from the university and private companies work side-by-side to formulate and commercialize products that use our prairie crops. The university provides access to capital-intensive equipment for new companies at a low cost and offers an environment where products can be taken from an idea, to production, and through clinical trials in one building.
Another way the University of Manitoba contributes to economic growth is by functioning as an idea generator to help solve industry problems. For example, the university has a partnership in place with Manitoba Hydro and university researchers are working to create models that will more accurately predict ice jams. This research will in turn help to prevent or mitigate the effects of ice jamming in the future. We were treated to a demonstration of a phenomenon known as hydraulic jump using water from a large reservoir in the Faculty of Engineering building. This water flowed through one of the large flumes used for research and gave us a clear view of the hydraulic jump that occurs when water traveling at a high velocity flows into a slower moving body of water.
Our day was capped off with a visit to the Centre for Earth Observation Science (CEOS) where we learned about the important work being done at the University of Manitoba to protect the environment. It was inspiring to learn U of M was one of three founding members of the Arctic Science Partnership, an organization dedicated to bringing together the world’s leading arctic scientists, and is a leader in Arctic research. This leadership in Arctic research is being further reinforced with the construction of a new research facility in Churchill, Manitoba, that will enable researchers to better understand the effects an oil spill could have in the Arctic.
While the focus of the Leadership Winnipeg program is primarily on leadership, the program also provides a unique perspective on our community and the leaders who sometimes escape the spotlight. Even though I graduated from the University of Manitoba with a 4-year degree, I left our day at the university with a new appreciation for this institution. I was impressed by the breadth and calibre of the research which is taking place at the university, and the ways in which the university is striving to educate the leaders of the future. I am prouder than ever to have the University of Manitoba as part of our community and count myself among its graduates.
Leadership Winnipeg is grateful for the support of our Vision Partner
The most recent Program for International Student Assessment show Manitoba's 15-year-old students are a year behind their counterparts in Canada's top performing provinces when it comes to reading and science, and more than half a year behind when it comes to math.
People often point to high graduation rates as a sign of success, but if our students are falling far behind their Canadian peers in learning outcomes, how can we possibly count graduation as a success? That’s why in Manitoba Bold your Winnipeg Chamber called for a firm action plan to move Manitoba into the top three provinces outcome-wise by 2021.
The Winnipeg Chamber has also long advocated for an amalgamation of all school divisions in Winnipeg. We remain the only large city in Canada with multiple school divisions. The recent provincial education funding announcement included a 15 per cent reduction in the school division administration cost caps. While this isn't amalgamation, the move will keep costs down.
The province also announced a two per cent cap on local education property tax increases, preventing any major property tax increases. The Chamber supports moving the authority to set the property tax mill rate back to the provincial government from school boards, in order to ensure greater consistency.
While the property tax cap will help keep rates down for Manitobans in the short term, cost control remain important. The most recent provincial budget projects total education spending of $4.4 billion. Twenty years ago, the entire provincial budget was $5.3 billion, of which education spending was around $1 billion annually. Even ten years ago, the education budget was around $3.1 billion annually. As test results show, all that spending has not resulted in a better education system. Studies also show no clear relationship between student outcomes and teacher compensation.
At the end of the day what we all want are better student outcomes. Let’s spend more time debating how to improve student outcomes, rather than debating the size of our education spending increases.
The Manitoba Museum is in the midst of a transformation. Our Chair, Johanna Hurme, visited the beloved cultural gem with CEO Claudette Leclerc to get an update and a sneak peek at their next steps...
Johanna Hurme: Great to be here and tour the Museum with you Claudette. What are we looking at here?
Claudette Leclerc: This image captures the three-step Capital Renewal Vision of the Manitoba Museum as it was envisioned in 2009 as result of extensive community consultations.
JH: I understand you’ve completed the first step of the plan?
CL: Yes, our expanded and renewed Alloway Hall opened in March 2017 and has already hosted our massive Manitoba Day celebrations, a number of special and travelling Canada 150 exhibitions, as well as the World’s Giant Dinosaurs exhibition, while also providing a rentals space for corporate events.
JH: That makes a lot of sense - a lot of NGOs need alternative revenue sources. That’s entrepreneurial and should be celebrated as a good way to be sustainable.
CL: Thank you. We’ve balanced our budget for 25 years, and we’re the first museum in Canada to be accredited by Imagine Canada.
JH: You mentioned community consultations – what else came out of that?
CL: What we heard – and what we already knew - was that after nearly 50 years, the Museum Galleries are tired and the Manitoba story needs to be updated. We have 56,000 square feet of gallery space and its very costly to keep them up to date.
We also learned that Manitobans are really interested in science. One-third of our attendees come to the Science Gallery and its only 6,000 sq feet. We would like to establish a stand-alone Science Centre that celebrates the science-based innovative industries of this province.
JH: This was the first museum I visited as a high school international exchange student. I felt the whole history of Manitoba really came alive. I remember walking through and being surrounded by the history – the city, immersed in the First Nations history – it was really powerful.
CL: Indigenous people had a very successful society before Europeans arrived, and we want to do a better job of connecting with that past. Step 2 of our Renewal project, Bringing Our Stories Forward, will help us tell those stories better, and we want to tell the contemporary story of Indigenous people too.
JH: It just feels like it is about time the Indigenous story gets updated from all kinds of different parts of society. I’m glad you are taking the lead on that - providing a proper stage so people ‘get it.’
Which is the first Gallery slated for renewal?
CL: The first gallery we’re going to renew as part of the Stories Project is the Nonsuch Gallery. We’re turning the story around so that instead of the Nonsuch leaving Deptford England, the ship has just arrived back from Hudson Bay so the sailors can share stories of meeting and trading with Indigenous people.
JH: It’s amazing how the smell of the ship takes you back.
CL: Yes, and we will ensure that the senses are engage with scent, sounds and visuals using interactive digital media to help tell the stories of the sailors returning from the New World. The gallery will be closing January and reopening in June.
JH: It’s a very impressive schedule you’re planning.
CL: We’re on a schedule to complete the entire Renewal project in time for 2020 when the Hudson`s Bay Company celebrates 350, and this coincides with Manitoba’s 150 and the Museum’s 50th anniversary. It makes sense that we complete our renewal in time for these anniversaries. It’s a huge job.
JH: It’s so unique to see this kind of exhibit, a whole ship in a museum. You really should be so proud. What other galleries will be updated?
CL: Next up will be the Winnipeg Gallery which has two parts. Winnipeg is such an interesting and dynamic city. The Winnipeg Gallery will tell the story of Winnipeg as a meeting place and settlement for thousands of years. We will tell more contemporary stories with an immersive multi-media environment, and in the Urban Gallery we’ll have new approaches to storytelling while still placing authentic artifacts at the core of the experience.
JH: Is the Urban Gallery the little town?
CL: That’s right. It was always meant to be Winnipeg 1920 but the space has bit of an abandoned feel. We want to enliven it with people sounds, projections, audio - so it feels populated. We also want to include the women’s right to vote story, as well as the Winnipeg General Strike.
JH: So we have the Nonsuch and Winnipeg Galleries to look forward to, what else?
CL: The Grasslands Gallery opened in 1971 and while some exhibits have been renewed the entire 6,000 sq foot gallery is under review. While some exhibits like the log cabin and tipi will stay with enhanced interpretation, there will be many changes in this area. We have a lot of research and community consultation to complete over the next two years, talking with Indigenous communities and updating the immigration story.
JH: We’ve had so much immigration since 1945, it’s vital to tell more stories of more recent waves of immigration.
CL: Yes and we’re consulting with those groups to find ways to bring their stories into the Museum. With over 300,000 visitors and 80,000 student visits we have a diverse community to connect with.
JH: Perfect. I love that idea. I can’t wait to see how it all turns out. I feel any Winnipegger or Manitoban who has visited this museum will find their own story inside - hopefully even more so with these updates – so they can feel ‘I am connected to this place no matter where I come from.’ We all came from somewhere, and it’ll be really nice to see the Museum come to life again in a new way.
CL: Thank you. The Museum is a real jewel in our community and we hope it`s been a place of pride. With updating the Museum and the stories we tell, we can build more pride, especially with the Indigenous community and newcomers who can see their stories reflected here.
JH: In closing I have to say how important it is we have a Museum that expresses a general understanding and appreciation for how the human and natural worlds coexist. How important it is that we share other perspectives – the variety and diversity – that’s the beauty of Canada.
This is such a rich community. The quality of life you can afford to have here. It feels like anything is possible. You can, with a bit of sweat and effort, make almost anything happen and I think that’s what you guys are doing here every day.
CL: Thank you Johanna, I think that sums it up really well.
North Forge Technology Exchange is putting out a call for innovative ideas to improve early childhood literacy and numeracy in Manitoba.
“We’re ready to put the talent and resources of the Manitoba innovation community to work on an issue that will affect the future of our province,” said Jeff Ryzner, president of North Forge Technology Exchange, which is facilitating the open challenge.
According to the Organization for Economic Co-Operation and Development (OECD), at age 15 Manitoba students lag behind their Canadian peers in literacy and numeracy – ranking eighth and ninth out of 10 provinces respectively. Research shows this starts very early, before age five. Manitoba data also show that in some communities, up to 77 per cent of kindergarten students are not ready for Grade 1 literacy and numeracy curricula.
“The Manitoba government is developing a new plan to improve outcomes in our education system with a focus on literacy and numeracy interventions starting in the early years,” said Education and Training Minister Ian Wishart, who chairs the Healthy Child Committee of Cabinet. “Interventions in early childhood have the largest proportional impact on outcomes compared to school-aged and adult interventions. We are pleased to see such incredible support from the innovation community, the private sector and our post-secondary partners.”
The call from North Forge reflects the Manitoba government’s collaboration with private and community resources to uncover innovative processes to address complex societal challenges, such as early childhood literacy and numeracy, said Wishart.
“The solution to this problem will be found here in Manitoba,” said Ryzner. “It may come from an educator, a parent, a student, an entrepreneur, or any one of the amazing people who live here. The key to innovation is diversity of thought. We need Manitobans to send us their ideas. We have an incredible team of innovators, private-sector partners and post-secondary institutions that are going to help us turn the best ideas into solutions we are going to test.”
A panel of judges will evaluate the proposals put forward for their use as practical, real-world solutions to enact positive change for improving literacy and numeracy in pre-kindergarten children. The top ideas will move on to prototyping and piloting in the community. To date, Wawanesa Insurance, TDS Law, MNP, Relish New Brand Experience, Friesens Corporation, InVision Edge, IDFusion Software, National Leasing, Permission Click, Pegboard Hosting and BitSpace Development have all committed to participate in the project.
“We whole-heartedly applaud the Manitoba government and North Forge for spearheading this initiative and are committed to working with all partners in this important endeavor to find a made-in-Manitoba solution that will benefit Manitoba children,” said Al McLeod, Wawanesa’s VP of Research and Innovation. “All of us at Wawanesa are excited by this opportunity to contribute our ideas, energy and resources to help our young people across the province succeed.”
The University of Manitoba is participating through its Game Changer idea competition initiative.
Red River College will contribute its significant expertise on the issue. “We are pleased to be involved in this initiative as Red River College is the most significant trainer of early childhood educators in Manitoba and is a global leader in research and development of early childhood education,” said Raeann Thibeault, dean of the college’s health science and community services division.
“When academia, the private sector and government collaborate with communities, we can solve anything,” said Ryzner.
Participants are invited to submit solutions at WeAreTheSolution.ca by January 11, 2018.