The Winnipeg Police Service must find $5.1 million in savings in each of the next three years if the city’s budget is approved.

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The Winnipeg Police Service must find $5.1 million in savings in each of the next three years if the city’s budget is approved.

The combined $15.3 million in savings is half of a $30.7-million shortfall, created after the plan to cut police pension costs was abandoned.

The city backed off that goal after an arbitrator ruled the pension changes would breach collective agreements.

The savings target was outlined in a preliminary 2021 multi-year budget update on Friday.

Mayor Brian Bowman said police Chief Danny Smyth has confirmed he can achieve the savings target, while the city will cover the remaining cost.

"Our chief has said these are achievable (targets) over the next three years," said Bowman.

Smyth declined to comment until a Winnipeg Police Board meeting scheduled for Dec. 10. Coun. Markus Chambers, the board chairman, said he expects the savings target will prove challenging for the "very tight" police budget, especially because photo enforcement revenue has dropped during the pandemic.

A recent increase in senior officers leaving their jobs could spark some savings, since new officers have lower entry-level wages, Chambers said.

Despite the savings mandate, the overall police budget will increase next year, rising from $294 million in 2020 to $301 million in 2021, which should help prevent service reductions for Winnipeggers, he said.

"With the crime rates… and the calls for service continuing to rise, we didn’t want there to be a further impact on service," he said.

Earlier this year, some groups demanded police funding be reduced or even eliminated, as they protested against police brutality and systemic racism.

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.

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