Manitoba Government Names Inaugural Members of Intellectual Disability Issues Advisory Council

Press Release

January 18, 2023

Group Will Help Guide the Development of Effective Programs for Adults With an Intellectual Disability: Squires

The Manitoba government has established the inaugural Intellectual Disability Issues Advisory (IDIA) Council to create a collaborative partnership with community stakeholders to better support Manitobans with an intellectual disability, Families Minister Rochelle Squires, minister responsible for accessibility, announced today.

“Our government looks forward to the expertise and passion the new council will provide and the valuable role they will play in shaping programs and services for Manitobans with an intellectual disability and their families,” said Squires. “The council will provide the Department of Families with important insights about their lived experience in the field as we continue to work towards implementing the recommendations made by the Vulnerable Persons Living with a Mental Disability Task Force.”

The creation of an advisory council was the number one recommendation of the task force.

The IDIA Council members are:

  • Maria Arentsen,
  • Jacqueline Leach,
  • Scott Smith,
  • Suzanne Swanton,
  • Joni Wilson,
  • Heidi Wurmann,
  • Valerie Wolbert, and
  • Evelyn Yelinek.

The council members were selected by eligible Manitobans that submitted applications and consist of representatives from service delivery organizations, disability advocacy organizations, families of people with an intellectual disability, Indigenous stakeholders, and two self-advocates.

“As an advocate, I feel very lucky to have the opportunity to speak for people with intellectual disabilities who aren’t able to speak for themselves,” said Valerie Wolbert, president, People First Manitoba. “I will work hard to ensure that the changes being made to the Vulnerable Persons Act will improve the lives of those who fall under this piece of legislation.”

“The establishment of the IDIA Council is a significant step forward in the implementation of the 81 recommendations from 16 areas of concern of the Pathways to Dignity: Rights, Safeguards, Planning and Decision Making report,” said Scott Smith, director of program development and quality assurance, Pulford Community Living Services. “Having community experience and expertise at the table will be critical in advising the recommendations to the legislation that affect the lives of 7,500 adults who live with an intellectual disability in Manitoba.”

Heidi Wurmann, assistant deputy minister, Department of Families, will chair the council. Inaugural council members will serve a two-year term.

For more information about the IDIA Council visit:

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For more information:

  • Public information, contact Manitoba Government Inquiry: 1-866-626-4862 or 204-945-3744.
  • Media requests for general information, contact Communications and Engagement:
  • Media requests for ministerial comment, contact Communications and Stakeholder Relations: 204-451-7109.


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