April 28, 2020
Treaty 1 Territory, Winnipeg, MB— Manitoba NDP Critic for Municipal Relations, Matt Wiebe, is urging the Pallister government to provide more funding and relaxed rules for Manitoba municipalities during the COVID-19 pandemic in order to maintain services for families and protect workers
“Cities, towns and municipalities are feeling the strain of trying to maintain services during a pandemic,” said Wiebe. “Families rely on the municipalities to provide essential services like fire and ambulance services, safe transit, and public health inspections to keep our city safe. Municipalities need more support to ensure our services and the front line workers that deliver them are protected during the pandemic. Manitoba municipalities need an end to the years long funding freeze and need more flexible rules around borrowing and reserves to meet today’s challenges.”
Manitoba’s municipalities have experienced major drops in revenue during the pandemic. Many are struggling to make difficult decisions about maintaining services in the face of serious cash-flow challenges. By allowing municipalities to run deficits for one year before returning budgets to balance, communities will be able to meet their immediate demands and avoid more layoffs.
Last week Minister of Municipal Relations Rochelle Squires issued letters to Manitoba’s mayors pushing them to lay off workers and cut wages. Both Winnipeg and Brandon have already been forced to lay off hundreds of municipal employees.
Weeks after Manitoba’s major cities declared local states of emergency, Squires and the Conservative government have so far refused to increase funding to municipalities and have refused to change rules to allow municipal leaders to exercise budgetary flexibility in order to survive the economic slump.
The Official Opposition is committed to working with the province to support the fight against COVID-19.