Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Prevention worth pounds of cure

  • Print

No matter who is in power at city hall, elected officials routinely cite crime and safety among their top priorities.

But robust emergency services come with an ever-increasing price tag, governments have learned after fulfilling election promises to hire more police, paramedics and firefighters.

In the City of Winnipeg, the combined cost of the police service and fire-paramedic service will be $406 million this year, a figure that represents 44 per cent of all city spending on services.

That figure has jumped almost $100 million in five years, from $308 million in 2009, when emergency services accounted for 39 per cent of the city's total operational spending.

The city has no control over one factor that's driving up the cost: arbitrated contract settlements with unions representing police and firefighters, who do not have the right to strike.

But the unions are not to blame for political decisions to hire more members of their ranks. In fact, for years, police, paramedics and firefighters have been pleading with politicians to improve the social services that contribute to a high number of emergency calls, noting emergency workers should not be forced to play the role of social workers.

The Winnipeg Police Advisory Board, a short-lived body commissioned by Mayor Sam Katz, suggested crime could not be reduced in this city through law enforcement alone. Its conclusion: No amount of police officers on the street can prevent the problems that take place inside homes, let alone alleviate the poverty, substance abuse and family breakdown that contribute to violence.

Likewise, firefighters and paramedics complain of repeated calls to aid the same patients in distress. While there are housing models that could greatly reduce the cost of emergency response, the responsibility for social services, health care and housing lie with other levels of government.

Until such services improve, the city spends more and more to provide all citizens with emergency services.

-- Bartley Kives

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 11, 2013 A4

Fact Check

Fact Check

Have you found an error, or know of something we’ve missed in one of our stories?
Please use the form below and let us know.

* Required
  • Please post the headline of the story or the title of the video with the error.

  • Please post exactly what was wrong with the story.

  • Please indicate your source for the correct information.

  • Yes

    No

  • This will only be used to contact you if we have a question about your submission, it will not be used to identify you or be published.

  • Cancel

Having problems with the form?

Contact Us Directly
  • Print

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

You can comment on most stories on winnipegfreepress.com. You can also agree or disagree with other comments. All you need to do is be a Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscriber to join the conversation and give your feedback.

Have Your Say

New to commenting? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions.

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press print or e-edition subscribers only. why?

Have Your Say

Comments are open to Winnipeg Free Press Subscribers only. why?

The Winnipeg Free Press does not necessarily endorse any of the views posted. By submitting your comment, you agree to our Terms and Conditions. These terms were revised effective April 16, 2010.

letters

Make text: Larger | Smaller

LATEST VIDEO

Kevin Cheveldayoff announces Maurice contract extension

View more like this

Photo Store Gallery

  • An American White Pelican takes flight from the banks of the Red River in Lockport, MB. A group of pelicans is referred to as a ‘pod’ and the American White Pelican is the only pelican species to have a horn on its bill. May 16, 2012. SARAH O. SWENSON / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS
  • MIKE.DEAL@FREEPRESS.MB.CA 100615 - Tuesday, June 15th, 2010 The Mane Attraction - Lions are back at the Assiniboine Park Zoo. Xerxes a 3-year-old male African Lion rests in the shade of a tree in his new enclosure at the old Giant Panda building.  MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

View More Gallery Photos

Poll

What are you most looking forward to this Easter weekend?

View Results

View Related Story

Ads by Google