Best Practices for At-Home Ergonomics

To view a PDF version of this information, please click HERE.

Many of us are suddenly working from home, in less than ideal circumstances. To avoid work becoming a (literal) pain in the neck, use these strategies to ensure your at-home-workstation is as ergonomically correct as possible.

Wherever you’re sitting, whether it’s an office chair or kitchen chair, make sure that:

  • You have adequate back support so the ears are in line with the shoulders and hips.
    • If not, try adjusting your chair (if possible) or adding a pillow to act as a lumbar support for your lower back.
  • Your shoulders are relaxed and level when keyboarding and using the mouse.
    • If not, raise/lower your chair or work surface height – try using books to prop up monitor screens or your laptop if you’re using an external keyboard. Consider using your ironing board as a height-adjustable desk!
  • Your hands are in line or slightly lower than your elbows.
    • If not, try folding a small towel to use as a wrist rest along the length of your keyboard.
  • Your arms are relaxed and your wrists are in a neutral/straight position (not up, down, or to one side).
    • If not, try the homemade wrist-rest as above.
    • Make sure your wrists are at the same level and as close to the keyboard as possible.
    • Adjust your chair height, if possible.
    • Align your keyboard, monitor, and chair in a straight line.
  • Your thighs are parallel to the floor and your knees are at the same height as your hips.
    • If not, try raising your chair (if possible) or adding a footrest – use books or old binders.
  • You have adequate space beneath your work surface to move legs.
    • If not, remove any objects under your work space.
  • Your documents and equipment are positioned correctly.
    • Keep frequently used items at the 10 and 2 o’clock positions and avoid reaching across your body.
    • Position your computer screen with your eyes naturally hitting the top of the screen, and reduce glare and brightness by adjusting your blinds and overhead lights. Use a task lamp if available; shine it away from the monitor.

Extra tips:

  • If you’re working at home on a laptop, see if you can bring your external keyboard and mouse from your workplace, or even your monitor if allowed. This will give you more flexibility in your at-home work space.
  • If your workstation is not ideal, try to vary your tasks so you’re not in the same position and posture all day; take frequent mini-breaks and get up and move around! Try standing or pacing when taking phone calls.
  • Try to set up an area that is dedicated to work that you can leave at the end of the day.

OHC’s Ergonomist, Andrew Dolhy, gave a webinar presentation to Prairie members of the Public Service Alliance of Canada. Please visit the PSAC website to view the video and get access to further resources on the best at-home ergonomic practices

Practical Social Distancing Guidelines for Workers & Workplaces

To review a PDF version of this information, please click HERE

What is ‘Social Distancing’?

Social distancing is deliberately increasing the physical space between people to avoid spreading illness. It is used to reduce the spread of communicable diseases like COVID-19. Health officials in Manitoba already recommend some kinds of social distancing, such as self-isolation (keeping away from others) for people who are showing symptoms of respiratory illness. Other examples include school closures, changes at workplaces and the cancellation of public gatherings. In addition, public health officials are recommending the cancellation of gatherings of more than 10 people, consistent with the announcement made by the provincial government.

Why are social distancing measures being considered?

Social distancing measures are used to reduce contact between people. This limits opportunities for transmission of diseases and can reduce the spread and impact of communicable illnesses, such as COVID-19.

In the case of COVID-19, social distancing measures are being considered for the following reasons:

COVID-19 can be spread through close contact (within 2 metres or 6 feet).

  • Unlike seasonal influenza, the time that a person can be infectious and transmit COVID-19 is much longer.
  • Individuals infected with COVID-19 may be able to transmit the virus before they start to show symptoms and take precautions like self-isolating.
  • Using social distancing can delay and minimize the peak in COVID-19 cases to help manage the impact on the health care system.


Social Distancing For Everybody

We are all encouraged to:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water for at least 20 seconds or use hand sanitizer when hand-washing is not possible.
  • Avoid touching your face.
  • Avoid handshaking as a means of greeting. Possible alternatives may include using a slight bow, wave, or toe kick when greeting others.
  • When opening doors (especially bathroom or other public area doors) or touching other public surfaces, use a paper towel, tissue or disposable glove; use only your knuckle to touch light switches, elevator buttons, etc.
  • Avoid using public transportation during rush-hour crowding (walk, cycle, or drive a car whenever possible). Alternatively, if possible, adjust your schedule to commute early or late to avoid rush-hour crowding on public transportation.
  • Avoid recreational or other leisure classes, meetings, or activities where you might come into contact with people who are contagious.
  • Use general surface cleaning products or wipes to clean commonly touched surfaces.


Social Distancing for Workplaces

Reduce number of contacts

  • Avoid meeting people face-to-face. Use the telephone, online conferencing, e-mail or instant messaging to conduct business as much as possible, even when participants are in the same building.
  • Keep at least a 2 metre/ 6 foot distance between people and limit interactions to 10 minutes or less.
  • If a face-to-face meeting is unavoidable, the meeting time should be for a minimum period of time, in a large meeting room and participants should sit at least 2 metres/ 6 feet from each other.
  • Limit the number of customers/clients your employees would have close contact with (e.g. fewer scheduled appointments, limited number of clients in a store at any one time).
  • Work from home: Whenever appropriate, teleworking/work from home arrangements should be made, on a temporary basis.
  • Encourage customers/clients/patients to request information and materials or place orders via phone and e-mail to minimize person-to-person contact. When items or materials must be collected in person, have them ready for fast pick-up or delivery.
  • Postpone or cancel events with more than 25 people.
  • Avoid unnecessary travel for business or pleasure. Cancel or postpone any such travel, as well as nonessential meetings, gatherings, workshops and training sessions.
  • Notify customers/clients of the social distancing measures you are taking by posting these on the front door.


Schedule Shifts & Adjust Hours of Operation

  • Stagger working hours to reduce number of employees at common spaces such as entrances/exits, elevators, cafeterias, etc. and allow employees to commute to and from work at off-peak hours. For example, if the normal working hours are from 9 am to 5 pm, employers can stagger start times at one-hour intervals between 7:30 am and 10:30 am, with corresponding staggered timings for end of work. Timings of lunch and other breaks can also be staggered.
  • Implement shift work in settings where shifts are not already in place, and extend hours of operation. Employers should ensure separation of employees on different shifts, and increase cleaning of common areas during shift changeovers.
  • Limit hours of operation.


Increase space & distance

  • Increase the spatial separation between desks and workstations as well as individuals (e.g., employees, customers) from each other, ideally a 2 metre separation should be maintained, unless there is a physical barrier (e.g., cubicle, Plexiglas window).
  • Increase the space between employees and customers/clients at counters by using physical barriers.
  • Offer virtual or live-streamed programs, services, and activities.
  • Do not congregate in work rooms, lunchrooms, copier rooms or other areas where people socialize.
  • Eat at your desk or away from others. Bring your lunch or purchase take-out meals.


Hygiene & Housekeeping

  • Avoid person-to-person contact such as shaking hands.
  • Ensure adequate handwashing facilities are readily available. Provide tissues, hand soap, hand sanitizer and no-touch trash cans throughout the workplace.
  • Discourage employees from using other employees’ phones, desks, offices or other work tools and equipment.
  • Remind employees to avoid sharing cups, glasses, dishes or cutlery, and ensure cups/glasses/dishes/cutlery are thoroughly cleaned using soap and warm water after each use, or placed in the dishwasher for cleaning.
  • Remove magazines, papers, and other objects that cannot be cleaned from common rooms such as cafeterias, kitchens, break rooms, and waiting areas.


Additional Resources


Thank you for your support and participation at RSI Day Hands On Ergonomics 2020

We would like to express our sincere gratitude to all of you attending and supporting our Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness (RSI) Day event.

Special thanks to: SAFE Work Manitoba, Activity Leaders and their organizations and Red River College Students contributing your time and talents to the event.

The event would not have been a success without you!





Resources and up-to-date information on Coronavirus (COVID-19)

This page contains resources for workers if they need to access assistance related to healthcare, income support, rent payment, emergency housing, food support, or domestic violence (click the links to jump quickly to that section).

If you are a worker and you want more information on your Right to Refuse Dangerous Work, the Province of Manitoba has added new information regarding COVID-19 and the Right to Refuse Dangerous Work on their website which outlines questions to consider to determine the exposure risk and information on what Workplace Safety & Health considers appropriate controls for high-risk workplaces. OHC has also created a resource on practical social distancing recommendations and guidelines for workers and workplaces.

Are you concerned you have COVID-19 symptoms? You have two options for help:

Fill out the answers to the questions at the bottom. They are Yes or No answers. The tool will tell you whether to call Health Links, to go to a clinic, or to do nothing if you are not at risk.

  • Health Linksthere may be a wait to have your call answered.

They will be able to assess you over the phone and tell you where to go if you need to be tested.

Local number: 204-788-8200 | Toll-free number: 1-888-315-9257

If you do not have Manitoba Health coverage (if you are a newcomer who does not yet have a Manitoba Health Card or if you are currently without status in Canada), access to screening, testing and treatment for COVID-19 will be provided at no charge. If you are concerned you have contracted COVID-19, please contact Health Links.

You may request a WRHA interpreter when you call Health Links and at the COVID-19 testing sites.

If you have returned to Manitoba from travel, either international (outside Canada) or domestic (outside Manitoba) on or after March 23, 2020, you must self-isolate and self-monitor for symptoms for at least 14 days following your return.

For more information on how to self-isolate and self-monitor, click HERE.

Healthcare workers ONLY: if you are returning from travel on or after March 23rd or if you believe you may have been exposed to COVID-19, you must contact Occupational and Environmental Safety and Health (OESH) at the WRHA as soon as possible. Please attempt to contact OESH first before calling Health Links.

  • Provincial Occupational Health COVID-19 Screening Line (WRHA OESH):

Local number: 204-926-1042 | Toll-free number: 1-888-203-4066

Are you experiencing anxiety, depression, or other mental health struggles and need someone to talk to?

  • Klinic Crisis Linethis province-wide phone line is available 24/7 for you to call for free and confidential counselling, support and referrals for people who are suicidal, in crisis or struggling to cope.

Local number: 204-786-8686 | Toll-free number: 1-888-322-3019

  • Westman Crisis Services  – this service works with adults in the Brandon and Assiniboine regions, who are in a mental health or psychosocial crisis.

Toll-free number: 1-888-379-7699

  • Interlake Crisis Services24 Hour Crisis Line providing telephone support for individuals in the Interlake-Eastern Regional Health Authority who are experiencing a mental health or psychosocial crisis. Also provides information and helpful resources to individuals looking for themselves or someone else.

Toll-free number:  1-888-310-4593

  • Southern Health Crisis Services – 24 Hour Crisis Line providing community citizens of all ages experiencing a mental health or psychosocial crisis ongoing support, crisis intervention, consultation, referral to or suggest resources and education.

Toll-free number:  1-888-617-7715

Toll-free number: 1-866-367-3276

Local number: 204-925-0040

Hours: Monday to Friday, 9 AM to 9 PM | Saturday and Sunday, 10 AM to 4 PM

  • Mental Health Virtual Therapy Program – AbilitiCBT, a new free & confidential digital therapy program available to all Manitobans experiencing low to mid symptoms of anxiety due to the pandemic.

Local number: 204-940-1781

  • Aulneau Renewal CentreFree of charge phone counselling for community members who are isolated and experiencing anxiety during this COVID- 19 crisis. Via a phone call, you will have access to a counselor who can help you look at coping tools and resources to help you and your family during this difficult time.

Local number: 204-987-7090

  • Jewish Child & Family Services – Counselling and Mental Health Support for individuals, couples, and families, including specific services for newcomer communities.

Local Number: 204-477-7430


Have you been laid off work because of the COVID-19 Pandemic?

  • The Canada Emergency Response Benefit may provide you with temporary income support if you:
    • Reside in Canada, and are at least 15 years old;
    • Have stopped working because of reasons related to COVID-19 or are eligible for Employment Insurance regular or sickness benefits or have exhausted your Employment Insurance regular benefits between December 29, 2019 and October 3, 2020;
    • Had employment and/or self-employment income of at least $5,000 in 2019 or in the 12 months prior to the date of your application; and,
    • Have not quit your job voluntarily.
    • Are a seasonal worker who has exhausted EI regular benefits and are unable to undertake your regular seasonal work as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak.
    • Have recently exhausted your EI regular benefits and are unable to find a job or return to work because of COVID-19.

Whether you qualify for CERB, Employment Insurance (EI) or both, you must only apply for CERB. Once you have received up to 16 weeks of CERB, if you are still eligible for Employment Insurance (EI) benefits, you can apply here.

  • Other supports from the federal government during COVID-19 are available HERE.
  • Community Unemployed Help CentreCommunity Unemployed Help Centre is a community-based nonprofit agency that provides information, assistance, advice, and representation to individuals dealing with the federal government’s Employment Insurance program and Manitoba’s Employment and Income Assistance program. Through its public-education work the Centre informs Manitobans of their rights and obligations in relation to these programs.

Local number: 204-942-6556 | Toll-free number: 1-866-942-6556

  • Sara Riel Employment Support Line – Sara Riel, a community mental health service provider, has an Employment Support line where will be able to work through some of your questions on benefits available and resources for you to access.

Local number: 204-237-9263 ext. 137

Hours: 8AM to 4:30PM

Do you need help accessing free and/or affordable food?

Winnipeg-based organizations providing food baskets and/or hot meals:

  • Winnipeg HarvestPreparing pre-packaged hampers for no-contact delivery. Contact the Food Assistance Call Centre for more information. Manitoba Health Card required.

Local number: 204-982-3660 | Outside Winnipeg: 1-800-970-5559

Hours: Monday to Friday 9:15 AM – 3:15 PM, Saturday 9:15 AM – 12:15 PM

  • 1Just CityAn organization that supports three drop-in community centres in Winnipeg’s core neighbourhoods.

St Matthews Maryland Community Ministry – 365 McGee Street (West End Commons) 

Hours: Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday from 1:30 PM-4 PM

What they offer:

    • Take out lunches available for housed people experiencing food insecurity
    • Eat in lunches with access to washrooms and a space to warm up for people experiencing homelessness
    • Emergency Food Kits so families don’t go hungry
    • Food Bank

West Broadway Community Ministry – 222 Furby Street (Crossways in Common)

Please note: This building is shared with housing for people who are at low immunity so there is no inside access.

Hours: Monday, Wednesday, Thursday from 12:30 PM-3 PM

What they offer:

    • Take out lunches
    • Access to a port-a-potty
    • Emergency Food Kits for families

Oak Table – 109 Pulford Street (Augustine United Church) 

Hours: Monday to Thursday from 12:30 PM- 3 PM

What they offer:

    • Take out lunches available for housed people experiencing food insecurity
    • Eat in lunches with access to washrooms and a space to warm up for people experiencing homelessness
    • Potential Access to health supports (shifts daily)

Location: 640 Ellice Avenue
What they offer:

    • Bagged lunches and dinners available for pick up at the door at the following times:
      Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 12 noon to 1 PM |Tuesday, Thursday from 5 PM-6 PM | Saturday from 10 AM-11 AM
  • Sunshine House a drop-in and resource centre focusing on social inclusion and harm reduction

Local number: 204-788-6473

Location: 646 Logan Avenue

What they offer:

    • Meal preparation
    • Provision of supplies
    • General social support
    • Drop in and recreation programs currently closed.

Rural Manitoba organizations providing food baskets and/or hot meals:

  • Helping Hands Soup Kitchen – a local soup kitchen, with food donated from local farmers, businesses, churches, and nearby Hutterite Colonies.
Local Number: 204-727-4635
Location: 111 7th Street, Brandon, MB
          What they offer:
    • Take out only during the COVID-19 outbreak
    • 4 or 5 people are allowed in at a time to preserve social distancing guidelines
Local Number: 204-239-7213
Location: 220 Duke Avenue, Portage la Prairie, MB
Hours: Open on Wednesdays for regular food bank hours during the pandemic.
What they offer:
    • Emergency assistance on a case by case basis. Call for more details; leave a message for return if no answer.

Are you having trouble paying your rent? Does your landlord want to evict you?

Due to COVID-19, rent increases are temporarily frozen from April 1 to May 31 and Residential Tenancies Branch has “paused” scheduling non-urgent eviction hearings until May 31, 2020. You will be allowed to stay in your unit until eviction hearings are rescheduled.

For more information and help contact:

Residential Tenancies Branch Government of Manitoba: 204-945-2476

Tenant-Landlord Cooperation at the North End Community Renewal Corporation: 204-927-2335

Do you need access to emergency housing?

Local shelters providing drop-in services as well as access to social resources for permanent housing support

Local number: 204-943-1748

Location: 300 Princess Street

Drop in currently closed during the day. Meals offered at 9:00 AM, 12:30 PM and 6:45 PM.

  • Main Street Projectcommunity health agency operating on housing-first and harm-reduction principles offering emergency shelter for up to 60 individuals

Local number: 204-982-8229

Location: 75 Martha Street

Modified drop in services during the day, to following Public Health social distancing guidelines. May open warming shelter to expand capacity for evening shelter.

  • Salvation Army Booth Centre Christian organization offering temporary accommodations and meals for up to 250 men and women in a clean, safe and secure environment.

Local number: 204- 946-9402

Location: 180 Henry Avenue

  • Safe and Warm Shelter at Samaritan House (Brandon) – 10-bed emergency shelter designated for adults who experience occasional homelessness. The shelter is fully staffed with trained support workers and security guards who ensure safety and assistance for clients.

Local number: 204-726-0758

          Location: 820 Pacific Avenue, Brandon, MB
Food bank is still operating with modifications for social distancing. Open 12-4 pm for people needing an indoor space with limited-time entry (30 minutes at a time) to allow all patrons to access centre.

Local number: 204-677-0976

Location: 115 Churchill Drive, Thompson MB

Are you dealing with domestic violence and need access to emergency housing?

Organizations providing emergency shelter and access to supports for those dealing with domestic violence.

  • Willow Place Emergency Shelter in Winnipeg, providing access to support, counselling, referrals and shelter

Local number: 204-615-0311 (24/7 crisis line) | Toll-free number: 1-877-977-0007

  • A Woman’s PlaceOrganization operating out of Norwest Community Co-op providing assistance for women and children impacted by domestic violence with counselling and support, safety planning, protection orders, legal consults and representation. Interpreter services available to those who need it.

Local number: 204-940-6624 | Online or text chat available – for more information click HERE

Hours: Monday to Friday from 9:00 AM to 9:00 PM

  • Men’s Resource CentreEmergency Shelter for men and their children who are fleeing intimate partner domestic violence and/or abuse.

Local number: 204.415.6797 ext. 201


Location: 115 Pulford Street

  • A & O: Safe Suite Initiative this initiative provides temporary housing for men and women, 55 years or older, who are in need of a safe place to stay due to abuse or neglect and whose needs cannot be effectively met by existing abuse/crisis services.

Local number: 204-956-6440 | Toll-free number:  1-888-333-3121

  • BRANDON: Westman Women’s Shelteran emergency shelter offering a short-term safe and supportive environment for physically, emotionally or sexually abused women and their children 24 hours a day, 365 days of the year. 

Call the Domestic Violence Crisis Line for intake: 1-877-977-007

  • THE PAS: Aurora House –a small emergency shelter providing accommodation and or counselling to women and children dealing with domestic violence.

Local number: 204-623-7427

  • FLIN FLON: Women’s Resource Centre  a safe place where you can get emergency housing and food for you and your children. Also provides counselling, support and referral.

Local number: 204-681-3105


  • WINKLER: Genesis House  provides a confidential service, which includes a shelter for abused women and their children, residential and non-residential programs and prevention through public education.

Local number: 204-325-9800


  • ShelterSafe Use this tool to search for shelters near you. You are able to access information and contact numbers for a variety of shelters based on your geographical location. Provides information on availability for pets and children’s programming.

Feb 28th RSI Day Free Event – Come and Try Nine Different Ergonomics Activities

February 28th is Repetitive Strain Injury Awareness Day (RSI) Day

Join us for a free event <Hands On Ergonomics>

Come and Try Nine Different Ergonomics Activities:

Þ Vibration and different ways to reduce it

Þ Lighting and contrast issues

Þ Posture and feedback using “Coach’s Eye”

Þ Muscle activity and different grips

Þ Grip Strength and posture changes

Þ Lifting and assessing if safe or not

Þ Sit/Stand Office Issues

Þ Pushing force on different flooring surfaces

Þ Networking and ergo equipment demonstrations


Norwood Community Centre, 87 Walmer Street

Free Parking available


AM Session:  9:00 a.m.— 12:00 noon

PM Session:  1:00 p.m.— 4:00 p.m.

RSI Day Poster 2020

Light Refreshments Provided

* Limited spaces available * 

RSVP by February 19, 2020

Indicating AM or PM session you are going to attend

Please contact Tiffany Pau at Occupational Health Centre

for more information:


Phone: 204-926-7909

Event support provided by:  SAFE Work Manitoba


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Chinese & Tigrinya Translations of OHC’s Report “Stories of Newcomer Workers in Manitoba’s Food Processing Industry” Now Available

Chinese and Tigrinya translations of OHC’s final report “Stories of Newcomer Workers in Manitoba’s Food Processing Industry” are now available, based on interviews we conducted with 11 workers from the Chinese and Eritrean communities. The report details the migration and work stories of newcomer workers in this industry, as well as their concerns, hopes and dreams. OHC has made 21 recommendations in this report to improve the health and well-being of newcomer workers in the food processing industry.

This research was supported by a grant from the Research and Workplace Innovation Program of the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba.

Chinese Translation

Tigrinya Translation

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Help us build harassment-free workplaces!

OHC is very excited to be partnering with other community health leaders, Klinic and Sexuality Education Resource Centre (SERC), to create and deliver a cutting edge curriculum to address workplace sexual harassment. But we need your help! 

We’ve created a brief survey which will help ensure that this project delivers a meaningful and effective product to Manitoba workplaces.

Please fill out the survey HERE and share your experiences to help us build safer workplaces for all workers in Manitoba.

Welcome Richard McCrae as OHC Health Educator for Five Year Term Position on the Project of Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Richard McCrae is a Health Educator with OHC for the five year funded project by Justice Canada on the sexual harassment in the workplace. Richard has a Bachelor’s Degree in Human Rights and has been an advocate and facilitator on topics of relationships, consent, and toxic masculinity for nearly a decade. Richard is working in partnership with SERC, Klinic, and the OHC team to develop and deliver an innovative, contemporary curriculum on sexual harassment in the workplace.

Occupational Health Centre is now recruiting trainers from Congolese, Colombian & Brazilian Communities for the Train the Trainer Program

You can be a Community Trainer on Workplace Health and Safety.  The program starts in September 2019.  There will be 25 hours of  training in 10 sessions, on  Tuesday evening at 6:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.  You will be expected to deliver community workshops in your first language once you complete the training. 

At the end of the training, participants will receive $30.00 per session for 10 sessions Community Trainers will receive an honorarium of $22.00 per hour for delivering community workshops.

Deadline to submit your resume is Monday, July 15, 2019 by email, mail or drop off.

To:  Geetha at 204-926-7908, email:

Address: 102-275 Broadway, Winnipeg, Manitoba, R3C 4M6

OHC’s final report “Stories of Newcomer Workers in Manitoba’s Food Processing Industry” is now available

OHC’s final report “Stories of Newcomer Workers in Manitoba’s Food Processing Industry” is now available, based on interviews we conducted with 11 workers from the Chinese and Eritrean communities. The report details the migration and work stories of newcomer workers in this industry, as well as their concerns, hopes and dreams. OHC has made 21 recommendations in this report to improve the health and well-being of newcomer workers in the food processing industry.

This research was supported by a grant from the Research and Workplace Innovation Program of the Workers Compensation Board of Manitoba.



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April 29th Free Public Presentation- Expert Eye: Vision and the Aging Worker

Apr 29, 2021 | 10:00 am - 11:00 am

OHC offers a free virtual public presentation

Expert Eye: Vision and the Aging Worker

Presented by: Marnie Courage, O.T. Reg. (MB)
CEO and Inclusion Specialist
Enabling Access Inc.

This webinar will:

  • Understand the aging demographics and age-related changes related to vision
  • Become familiar with common age-related vision loss conditions
  • Understand impact on worker’s performance, safety and psychological health
  • Discuss environmental considerations for injury prevention related to vision loss
  • Become familiar with administrative, engineering and behavioural accommodations to support employees experiencing vision loss.

Registration required, please register here: REGISTER

 The session time is on Manitoba time (CST) from 10:00 – 11:00 a.m.

You will receive a confirmation email for your registration and the Zoom Login information.