While COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the City of Winnipeg’s budget, inflation is poised to create another massive blow to the bottom line, one mayoral candidate warns.

While COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc on the City of Winnipeg’s budget, inflation is poised to create another massive blow to the bottom line, one mayoral candidate warns.

Coun. Scott Gillingham, who recently stepped down as finance chairman to run for mayor, said a soaring inflation rate could cost as much as the pandemic.

"The pandemic (is expected to) cost the City of Winnipeg just under $222 million over three years (in new costs and lost revenues). That’s approximately $74 million per year and… it equates to over five per cent of our annual operating budget. With inflation rates at 6.7 per cent right now, the rate of inflation is going to put significant cost pressures on the City of Winnipeg’s budgets," Gillingham said Monday.

The city does raise some fees annually to help address inflation, but that’s expected to fall short of rising labour, vehicle, construction and fuel costs, he said.

"We’re seeing inflation rates that are at a 30-year high. That is going to put pressure on the city’s budget in 2023, and in future years as well," he said.

To help cope with the cost crunch, Gillingham promised Monday to offer a cost estimate for each campaign pledge he makes and to reveal how each would be funded. He challenged all other mayoral candidates to do the same and release the information before Oct. 3, when advance voting is expected to begin.

Such a commitment should help keep promises realistic, he said.

"It’s easy for candidates to make promises without having a credible and clear funding source identified as a means to pay for the promises," he said.

Seven other candidates have so far registered to run for mayor: Jenny Motkaluk, Don Woodstock, Christopher Clacio, Rick Shone, Robert-Falcon Ouellette, Shaun Loney and Idris Ademuyiwa Adelakun.

A registered candidate’s nomination papers (which include the signatures of at least 250 eligible voters) must be filed by Sept. 20.

Loney, a social enterprise leader, said he would cost out his promises, but stressed the next mayor should also focus on improving how major departments operate to ensure value for taxpayers.

"The solution to our problems needs to be much more creative and transformative," he said.

Motkaluk and Woodstock also committed to sharing cost estimates for their promises.

The remaining candidates could not be reached by deadline Monday.

joyanne.pursaga@freepress.mb.ca

Twitter: @joyanne_pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga

Joyanne Pursaga
Reporter

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.