Manitoba developing solution to education’s COVID-19-related staffing needs

'As the pandemic continues and in-class learning continues, we recognize the demand this is placing on Manitoba's classrooms'

Manitoba developing solution to education’s COVID-19-related staffing needs
COVID-19 has created new staffing issues in schools.

Manitoba is developing a solution to help substitute teachers and educational assistants sustain classroom education and supports through the 2020-21 school year.

“As the pandemic continues and in-class learning continues, we recognize the demand this is placing on Manitoba’s classrooms,” said Cliff Cullen, minister of education. “Manitoba Education, along with the Manitoba School Boards Association and school divisions, identified the need to address staffing shortages and reached out to Red River College to explore innovative ways to support in-class learning through the 2020-21 school year.”

The government will support two condensed training programs in response to the staffing needs identified by school divisions across the province.

The Basic Classroom Skills for Limited Teaching Permit Holders Program will provide short-term, basic training to prepare individuals hired on a temporary basis to teach successfully in a classroom environment. Meanwhile, the Educational Assistant (EA) Essentials Program will provide short-term, entry-level training to new EAs who would then work under the direction of teaching staff.

Created by Red River College (RRC) in collaboration with the Manitoba Association of School Superintendents, the programs are designed to provide consistent and quality training to the individuals hired by school divisions to address COVID-19 staffing challenges in Manitoba’s classrooms.

“Our college community continues to draw on our unique experience and expertise – both with content development and highly skilled instruction in these areas – to create customized solutions to meet the urgent human resource challenges this pandemic presents across various sectors and industries,” said Fred Meier, president and CEO, RRC. “We will continue to leverage our skills and expertise to support critical and essential industries across Manitoba, and we are proud to work with our partners in the K-12 system to create solutions to address educational continuity and the pressing staffing needs identified by the task force as we navigate the home stretch of this unprecedented school year.”

Both programs draw on existing training provided by Red River College. It will be offered online, both full-time and part time, in French and English, and will be accessible to individuals across Manitoba. Each program will be approximately 30 hours long.

Also, school divisions will continue to hire interested, qualified individuals through their standard processes, and will refer candidates to Red River College for training. Intakes will begin on Jan. 18. School division job postings are available on the Manitoba School Boards Association’s website at

“We understand a key part of maintaining in-class learning during the COVID-19 pandemic requires that members of the school community remain home when sick,” said Cullen. “These programs are part of a $44-million commitment to assist alongside hiring more teachers and staff and ensuring a safe and healthy learning environment for all students, teachers and staff.”

The province also announced it is creating a new department for advanced education, skills and immigration that will provide job opportunities for young people in the province.

In December, the Canadian Teachers' Federation (CTF/FCE) called on governments across the country to include teachers and education workers on the COVID-19 vaccine priority list.