Winnipeg’s 10 Cents & Provincial & Federal Budgets

I’m writing this update to make very brief comments on the recent Provincial and Federal budgets – and to share insight on the primary reason Winnipeg is ‘behind the times’ on building new recreation facilities, firehalls, a modernized sewer treatment facility, and having incredible ‘pot hole free’ roads like North Dakota!  This is background information, which will especially help the residents of the Waverley West ward understand our ‘community’ infrastructure challenges. Please know this is not a ‘pass the buck’ kind of rant , but it is to try and simply share the facts on a very relevant topic.

 Winnipeg’s 10 Cents on the Dollar

  • FACT: For every one dollar you pay in taxes, 10 cents go to municipalities to deliver services. (Winnipeg is a municipality) yes – Winnipeg receives 10 cents. 40 cents goes to Province and 50 cents goes to Federal government.
  • FACT: Municipalities manage and maintain approximately 60 percent of the public infrastructure and amenities that drive our economy and quality of life in Canada. Cities deliver maintenance services, build recreation centres, firehalls, sewer treatment plants, quality roads and more!

Cities across Canada belong to a national organization – the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM). FCM has done years of analysis on how cities are funded and deliver services. For the past decade, even longer, the FCM has been calling for a ‘new funding deal’ for municipalities.

  • Cities have very few ways to raise funds other than primarily property taxes. Yet property taxes alone cannot cover off all the public infrastructure costs needed to support growth. And when there is rapid growth, as we’ve seen in Winnipeg, and in wards like Waverley West, Transcona, St Vital and Old Kildonan, people need housing AND services.

We are now receiving Federal and Provincial funding for housing – millions actually which is great, BUT we are not receiving any additional funding to support needed growth services like recreation centres, firehalls, sewer treatment plants, quality roads and more! 10 cents on one tax dollar just doesn’t allow for all the additional services to support rapid growth. And of course, to provide ongoing maintenance to our roads. We are just patching holes on old deteriorating roads, with our 10 cents on the dollar.

 Province of Manitoba’s 2024 Budget

The outstanding statement for me – in the recent 2024 Provincial budget is located on page 50 under Support for Municipalities and Communities

  • “Over the coming year, we will work with municipal stakeholders, including the Association of Manitoba Municipalities, the Association of Manitoba Bilingual Municipalities and the City of Winnipeg to develop a reliable and flexible multi-year funding model that works for all Manitobans.”

This is something Mayors and Councillors throughout the province have been seeking for decades. Yes, there are a lot of ‘one off’ pots of money that come to the city for ‘special projects’ – but without having a reliable funding model that you can count on its virtually impossible to do solid long term budget planning. I have never been more optimistic about Winnipeg and Manitoba’s future as I am now. The very positive working relationship between the Premier and Mayor bodes well for our future. We are a Province of only 1.4 million people with 800,000 living in Winnipeg. In relative world comparison, a very very small population to support all the services we need. It is beyond refreshing to see such collaboration between the City and Province.

Government of Canada’s Federal Budget

For every home built, there needs to be corresponding infrastructure. While I’m pleased there is more funding coming for housing and support for homelessness, there still is little funding to support the need for corresponding infrastructure. BUT it is not possible to build so many new homes across Canada without considering essential housing-enabling infrastructure. Yet no one is even talking about that part of the equation, let alone announcing funding for it.  It is a significant oversight. A report by the Federation of Canadian Municipalities estimates that each new housing unit will require $107,000 in public infrastructure investment. Receiving 10 cents of the tax dollar will make it virtually impossible for cities to build the required supporting infrastructure for the current and projected population growth. For sure Canada needs immigration growth, but when it comes at such a rapid pace with little Federal thought of supporting services, it is not fair to new and all Canadians.

  • The rapid growth we are experiencing in Waverley West, means we need fire stations, recreation campuses, ongoing road maintenance, and a sewer treatment plant that can handle the growth capacity, and more! 10 cents on the dollar barely allows us to build these facilities, and certainly won’t support ongoing maintenance and future growth.
  • Prior to the Federal budget, the government announced they will put $1B towards infrastructure needs for ALL cities in Canada. But how far will $1B go – Winnipeg’s sewer treatment plant alone requires a $1 Billion upgrade.

So – what to do ? Cities will continue to work with the Provincial and Federal governments to relay the need for corresponding infrastructure to support the Federal government’s projected growth of 500,000 people a year for the next three years.  You could help by calling your Member of Parliament, and sharing your frustration on how Cities are funded.

From my years now as City Councillor, I see delivering quality city services as one of our biggest challenges. 10 cents on the dollar goes only so far.

I’ve also written more on this funding issue see: There is only one taxpayer