Winnipeg operating budget “devil is in the detail”

WINNIPEG – The union that represents Winnipeg’s municipal workers is looking to the Mayor to protect the city’s front line services and staff.

“Our city relies on our contingent of expert staff,” said Mike Davidson, President of CUPE Local 500. “After many years of vacancy management and a proposed additional increase of $3.4 million over last year, many of our city’s services are being operated with reduced levels of staffing.”

The effect of the city’s decade-long property tax freeze, coupled with the equally long vacancy management program, has put the city far behind other cities in Western Canada.

“We’re looking for leadership from City Hall to improve, rather than cut the services Winnipeggers rely on,” said Davidson. “We have a lot of catching up to do as a city, so now is the time to invest in our future.”

Average tax increases in large Western Canadian cities in 2015 is approximately 4.86 per cent, twice that of the proposed 2.3 per cent in Winnipeg. “Winnipeg’s revenue streams have been strangled for a decade,” said Davidson. “Now is the time for investment, not further austerity and cuts.”

CUPE Local 500 would like to see leadership from the city on the following:

  • An immediate end to the vacancy management program – to ensure adequate staffing levels in city services;
  • Increased staff levels in 311 – to ensure Winnipeggers have immediate access to front line services;
  • Contracting-in of previously outsourced work such as snow clearing, to ensure accountable and quality public service delivery;
  • Eliminate further reductions to the business tax. Business and commercial properties need to contribute more to the financial well being of our city;
  • An increase in tax revenue that matches average tax increases in other Western Canadian cities;
  • An improved public engagement and consultation budget process that includes input by members of the public service and civic unions and associations;
  • Maintaining or improving the level of city services currently being provided to Winnipeggers – to ensure that our citizens do not receive cuts to the services they rely on.

“We understand that running a city budget is difficult,” said Davidson “and we want City Hall to know that we, as the city’s workers, are here to offer our expertise and help.”