Premier touts good news for future city funding


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Manitoba’s premier is hinting her government could finally thaw its funding freeze for the City of Winnipeg.

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Manitoba’s premier is hinting her government could finally thaw its funding freeze for the City of Winnipeg.

After not increasing the general operating grant since 2016, Premier Heather Stefanson suggested Friday that the province will help the municipal government cope with soaring inflation.

“There will be some increases in (the provincial 2023-24) budget, but I’m not going to give details today. That budget will be forthcoming. It will be a great news announcement for the City of Winnipeg and for other municipalities across our province,” Stefanson said.

The premier’s comments came during a media event to announce $850 million of provincial spending, which finance officials clarified includes just $150 million that was not already accounted for in the latest Manitoba budget forecast.

Of that $150 million, the province included a previously announced $40-million pledge to help extend Winnipeg water and sewer service to CentrePort South. The city has committed $20 million for that project, which it argues is critical to attracting new development, jobs and tax dollars.

Stefanson told media more provincial support will be announced for Winnipeg, including new provincial transit dollars and more money to cover inflationary cost increases for some projects set to receive federal, provincial and municipal funding.

“More good news (is) coming for the City of Winnipeg… there are other announcements that will be made with other infrastructure projects that is new money for those projects,” she said.

However, an Opposition critic accused the Progressive Conservative government of greatly underfunding municipalities, including Winnipeg.

“Since they took office (in 2016), the PCs have frozen municipal funding, forcing communities to make cuts to services families rely on and starving them of the resources they need to thrive,” Matt Wiebe, NDP critic for municipal affairs, said in an emailed statement.

When asked if Winnipeg expected more new funding from the province through its latest round of affordability measures, Mayor Scott Gillingham stressed the commitment to promptly transfer funds to service CentrePort is significant.

As the city expects to end 2022 with a nearly $70-million operating deficit, he said an end to the provincial funding freeze is needed.

“There (are) significant pressures that we face as a city. And so, we have indications from the premier today, (that may end)… and an increase in funding is certainly welcome,” said Gillingham.

Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Born and raised in Winnipeg, Joyanne loves to tell the stories of this city, especially when politics is involved. Joyanne became the city hall reporter for the Winnipeg Free Press in early 2020.

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