WINNIPEG, MB: The budget presented today by Winnipeg Mayor, Brian Bowman, will leave the Winnipeg Police Service short-handed yet again, with Winnipeg citizens looking at longer wait times for police calls and investigations.
The most recent “dashboard” report to the Winnipeg Police Board for the first six months of 2017 showed that violent crime was up 7%, property crimes 12% and police “events” up 10% over the same period last year. Yet, the WPS budget will increase only 1.2% or $3.5 million this year – as much, it would seem, as is available for continuing to explore Portage and Main pet projects.
“Our members work hard every day to keep Winnipeg families safe, but they need the resources to do that job effectively,” said Winnipeg Police Association President Maurice ‘Moe’ Sabourin. “The criminals of Winnipeg are not planning their activities based on the rate of inflation or the movement of a price index, and Council should give the Winnipeg Police Service the resources to meet the challenge of ever-increasing calls for service. The budget for 2017 has already created a number of difficulties, including reductions in training, and the 2018 plan appears to be more of the same.”
Sabourin noted that as recently as June 21, 2017, Mayor Bowman introduced to City Council a collective agreement with the WPA he described as “the longest and most sustainable negotiated agreement with the Winnipeg Police Service in almost 20 years”.
“Given the progress all sides appeared to be making based on those comments, it is disappointing to see the budget introduced today does not follow on that sentiment,” said Sabourin. He further noted that special-interest projects of the Mayor, such as the opening of the intersection at Portage and Main to pedestrians, always seem to find money.
“The Mayor writes this budget, he controls the process behind closed doors, and the decisions on where money goes,” said Sabourin. “The city budget process continues to be a secretive exercise with the Mayor pulling the strings. While it will be difficult, we hope the broader membership of City Council, together with the Winnipeg Police Board, will help the Mayor focus funding on priorities that keep Winnipeg families safe.”