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Media Releases

March 1, 2019

Fourteen primary care paramedic recruits graduate from Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service’s six-week orientation and training class

Graduates from Recruit Class will begin service starting this month

Released: 10:00 a.m.

Winnipeg, MB - At a graduation ceremony this afternoon, Councillor Vivian Santos, Acting Deputy Mayor attending on behalf of Mayor Brian Bowman, was joined by Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service (WFPS) Chief, John Lane, to celebrate the success of the City’s 14 newest primary care paramedics (PCPs).  

“We welcome these new paramedics to our team of emergency services providers,” said Councillor Vivian Santos. “On behalf of all Winnipeggers, please know we are very proud of all you've accomplished. We are very grateful for the commitment each of you are making towards helping your fellow citizens. It takes a special kind of person to dedicate themselves to a career like this.”

“I am pleased to welcome these 14 new paramedics into our Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service family,” said Chief John Lane. “They are joining our team of highly skilled frontline staff providing round-the-clock emergency services to Winnipeg’s residents, visitors, and businesses. They will be part of the team there for Winnipeggers when disaster strikes or the unthinkable happens.”

The newest graduates completed a six-week orientation and training period which was held at the WFPS Training Academy. The orientation and training period provided recruits with a combination of classroom instruction and hands-on training specific to WFPS paramedic operations. Subject areas covered over the six weeks included WFPS patient care protocols and procedures, emergency vehicle operations and use of the Canadian Triage Acuity Scale and Electronic Patient Care Record documentation system. It also provided recruits with Indigenous cultural training, mental health first aid, crime scene awareness and fire-rescue awareness as well as familiarization with the 911 Communications Centre.

Incoming PCP recruits are accepted to the six-week orientation and training period as part of a competitive hiring process. Applicants must be licensed primary care paramedics in the Province of Manitoba and graduates of a recognized college.

For more information on careers with the WFPS, please visit Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service - Careers.

2019 preliminary operating & capital budgets respond to provincial funding uncertainty with balance, accountability

Released: 1:35 p.m.

WINNIPEG, MB – The 2019 preliminary operating and capital budgets for the City of Winnipeg tabled at a special Executive Policy Committee meeting today respond to provincial funding uncertainty with a balanced and accountable approach Mayor Brian Bowman said today.

“Preparing this year’s budget was complicated by ongoing uncertainty regarding provincial government funding support to the city,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “I fully support the provincial government’s efforts to eliminate its budget deficit, but I don’t believe this should be achieved on the backs of Winnipeg property taxpayers. As such, the preliminary budgets being proposed today for the public and Council’s consideration reflect a balanced, disciplined, and accountable response to this uncertainty.”

The Mayor said a healthy amount of uncertainty remains with respect to the level of provincial capital funding that will be provided to the City of Winnipeg in 2019.

Provincial capital funding support in 2019 is expected to be limited to meeting provincial cash flow commitments for existing capital projects such as the Waverley underpass and bus rapid transit. Funding in 2019 for regional and local roads is expected to be limited to only those commitments made under the Accelerated Regional Road Program.

These limits on funding, together with the provincial decision to not fully fund capital commitments for roads in 2018, mean the regional and local road program in 2019 is budgeted to be $86.4 million. This represents a significant decrease from previous years, and the lowest regional and local road budget since 2014.

The Mayor said the more responsible way to address the shortfall is to reduce the number of road projects rather than ask Winnipeg residents to pay a 7.1 percent property tax increase or incur additional long term debt to make up shortfalls in provincial capital funding for roads in 2019. The Mayor also said it would be irresponsible to budget beyond 2019 expecting the provincial government shares the city’s priority to fix Winnipeg’s roads.

“This is the city’s new reality,” said Mayor Bowman. “I accept that reality. And our preliminary capital budget and five-year capital forecast reflects that reality in a responsible and accountable way moving forward.”

The preliminary budget and five-year capital forecast for the city’s regional and local road program only reflects provincial capital support that has been committed under the Accelerated Regional Road Program. This means the historic, $976 million road renewal plan approved by Council in September 2018 would be reduced by $175 million totaling $801 million over six years.

It will also mean less investment in the pedestrian and cycling program in 2019 and beyond.

About $3 million is proposed to be invested in various sidewalks, bike corridors, and recreational walkways in 2019. This represents a program decrease of $2.7 million from what was projected to have been invested in 2019 as part of the 2018 capital budget, and $17.5 million less over six years.

“Unfortunately, this will mean fewer road, cycling, and pedestrian projects will be undertaken this year compared to last year,” said Mayor Bowman. “And it also means fewer projects will be undertaken in future years.”

Overall, this year’s tax supported operating budget proposes to limit operating expenditure increases to 3.9 percent when compared to last year’s budget. The majority of this increase is to fulfill obligations under city’s existing collective agreements across multiple departments.  

The 2019 preliminary budgets propose to limit property tax increases to 2.33 percent, and dedicate the entire increase to addressing Winnipeg’s infrastructure requirements.

Two percent of the proposed 2.33 percent property tax increase remains dedicated to rebuilding and repairing regional and local roads. The other 0.33 percent of the proposed increase remains dedicated toward the completion of the Southwest Rapid Transitway. This increase means the average homeowner will pay an additional $40 in municipal property taxes in 2019.

No new fees are proposed in the 2019 budget. No increase is proposed to water and sewer rates. No increase is proposed to the frontage levy rate. No increase is proposed to parking rates.

The water and sewer dividend rate is proposed to decrease from 12 to 11 percent of budgeted water and wastewater sales. This is the first time in the city’s history that the water and sewer dividend has been reduced allowing additional resources to be made available to help fund significant upgrades to Winnipeg’s wastewater treatment infrastructure mandated by the Province of Manitoba.

The 2019 budgets propose a vacancy management target of $18 million to be shared by all departments. Vacancy management is not proposed to involve any layoffs of current city employees. The 2019 preliminary budgets also reflect a total of just under $12 million of efficiency savings to be held corporately as well as $1.6 million of expenditure management savings to be allocated among all departments on a pro rata basis.

To continue powering the economy and reduce the burden on small businesses, the preliminary budget proposes to reduce the business tax from 5.14 percent to 4.97 percent and increase the business tax threshold from $33,300 to $33,900 in 2019.

The Mayor noted the business tax rate proposed in 2019 represents almost a 13 percent decrease from 2014, and a further step toward its eventual elimination.

Better winter maintenance of active transportation a focus in 2019 preliminary budgets

Released: 1:40 p.m.

WINNIPEG, MB – The 2019 preliminary budgets propose to invest approximately $432,000 additional funds to better maintain the city’s active transportation network during the upcoming winter as part of almost $35 million budgeted for snow removal and ice control in 2019.

The implementation of the active transportation network winter maintenance strategy was adopted by Council in June 2018.

This strategy identified the need to reprioritize the winter maintenance of pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure to better ensure uninterrupted and effective connections between various neighbourhoods, transit facilities, and the downtown.

Residents and active transportation users have found many of the new active transportation routes across the city to be disconnected or not maintained during winter. In some cases, the priority in pedestrian and cyclist facilities did not coincide with the existing priority networks established by the adjacent roadways.

The reprioritization and winter maintenance strategy will better connect pedestrians and cyclists equitably, and provides funding to maintain active transportation inventory previously not maintained over winter.

The City of Winnipeg’s $35 million roadway snow removal and ice control program strives to provide safe and accessible conditions on city streets and sidewalks throughout the winter season.

Community centres take centre stage in preliminary 2019 budgets

Released: 1:42 p.m.

WINNIPEG, MB – Additional capital support proposed in the preliminary 2019 budgets allow community centres to take centre stage by more than doubling funding available through the Community Centre Renovation Grant Program (CCRGP).

“Community centres are at the heart of where we come together as neighbours and friends,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “Building and preparing Winnipeg today for a population growing toward one million people strong requires additional investment to help existing community centres keep pace with repairs and upgrades necessary to keep their doors open and the heat on.”

The CCRGP was established in 2012. It provides dedicated funding to support renovation projects for city-owned, board-run community centres. Access to this funding is open to all General Council of Winnipeg Community Centres (GCWCC).

The 2019 preliminary budgets propose to more than double the funding available through the CCRGP beginning this year from $965,000 to $2 million. The preliminary budgets also recommend that the program be evaluated over the coming year with consideration given to increasing the maximum funding threshold per project from $50,000 to $100,000 allowing community centres flexibility to undertake projects larger in scope.

The City of Winnipeg’s Asset Management Plan outlines that the infrastructure deficit within Community Services has increased significantly over the last ten years. In 2009, the department deficit totaled $446 million and represented approximately six percent of the city’s overall deficit. In 2018, this infrastructure deficit increased to $843 million representing 12 percent of the city’s overall deficit.

Community centres, as an asset class within Community Services, represent the largest share of the infrastructure deficit of all classes within the department at 32 percent or $274 million.

There are 63 community centres across Winnipeg. The majority of Winnipeg community centres were constructed in the 1960s and 1970s, primarily to support outdoor sports such as hockey, baseball, and soccer.

Over 17,000 people volunteer annually at community centres representing over one million volunteer hours.

Low income bus pass among key public transit investments proposed in preliminary 2019 budgets

Released: 1:46 p.m.

WINNIPEG, MB – Introducing Winnipeg’s first low income bus pass together with other key initiatives and investments proposed in the 2019 preliminary operating and capital budgets will help make the city’s public transit system more affordable, safe, and convenient Mayor Brian Bowman said today.

The Mayor noted this will be an important year for Winnipeg Transit with the finalization of the Transit Master Plan, construction concluding on the Stage 2 of the Southwest Rapid Transitway, and the first full year where new ridesharing services are available and new regulations of the vehicle-for-hire industry are in place.

“This will be a year requiring important decisions for our city’s transit system,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “Our city’s population continues to grow, and growing cities require efficient, safe, and affordable public transit systems.”

While Winnipeg continues to have among the lowest transit fares compared to other major Canadian cities, the preliminary 2019 budget includes a recommendation for Council to approve a phased-in implementation of a low income bus pass starting on April 1, 2020 further enhancing the service’s affordability and accessibility.

The low income pass would provide eligible adults to qualify for a 30 percent discount on the cost of a full fare adult monthly pass in 2020, a 40 percent discount in 2021, and a 50 percent discount starting April 1, 2022. This will allow Winnipeg Transit to phase in the cost of this initiative over three years while assessing what additional resources might be required within the broader context of the forthcoming Winnipeg Transit Master Plan.

The 2019 preliminary budgets also propose to maintain the affordability of transit by freezing transit fares in 2019 at 2018 levels as was previously approved by Council. This is the first time since 2007 that transit fares have been frozen. The tax supported transfer to transit is proposed to increase to $70.6 million in 2019 representing a six percent increase from last year’s tax supported transfer of $66.4 million. This tax supported transfer further supports the service’s affordability for passengers.

Building on previous safety initiatives, the preliminary budgets also propose significant investments in transit safety including:

  • $3.15 million to purchase and install bus operator safety shields for the entire bus fleet over the next year;
  • $1.1 million to modernize bus communication;
  • $65,000 to equip transit inspectors with protective vests; and
  • $100,000 for a study to support a long-term transit security plan that considers expanding the powers of transit special constables.

The 2019 preliminary budget proposes to continue renewing the bus fleet with an investment of $22.2 million to purchase 34 new buses including buses for the opening of Stage 2 of the Southwest Rapid Transitway.

The preliminary 2019 budgets also propose investments to improve the ridership experience by earmarking over $1 million for additional heated bus shelters in 2019, and $500,000 to improve bus stop accessibility.

Next step in electrification of Transit’s bus fleet proposed in preliminary 2019 budgets

Released: 1:50 p.m.

WINNIPEG, MB – The 2019 preliminary budgets allow the next step to be taken in the future electrification of the City of Winnipeg’s transit fleet by proposing a $1 million investment to study how best to facilitate its implementation including a budget estimate for the purchase of 12 to 20 battery-electric buses.

The City of Winnipeg, in partnership with the Province of Manitoba, Manitoba Hydro, New Flyer Industries, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, Red River College, and Sustainable Development Technology Canada, initiated an electric bus demonstration project in 2014.

This project introduced electric buses into daily operation on the number 20 Academy-Watt bus route, a two-hour route starting at Winnipeg Richardson International Airport and running through the city centre to East Kildonan before returning to the airport.

In November 2015, based on the success of the demonstration project, the Manitoba government and the City of Winnipeg announced the formation of a joint task force to investigate the potential of implementing electric transit buses beyond those used during the demonstration project.

The task force completed their report in July 2016. The task force outlined multiple benefits of the new electric technology.  These included reduced fuel costs, reduced maintenance costs, reduced greenhouse gas, and reduced noise. It also outlined that electric buses are most beneficial when they can be applied to high-use routes on a dedicated basis thereby reducing the use of diesel fuel as much as possible.

Its analysis concluded that while electrification of the bus fleet was, at the time of the report, somewhat more costly overall than diesel buses, the gap was neither overwhelming nor insurmountable with the longer-term cost advantage trending toward electric buses.

A significant challenge, however, of introducing electric buses identified by the task force was that the current transit system’s overall design is based on characteristics of diesel buses which are very different than electric buses.

These differences include diesel buses’ ability to operate for extended periods of time untethered to refueling. This operational characteristic permits diesel buses to be available whenever and wherever they are needed, operating upwards of 22 hours daily or across an entire urban area when and where required.

Electrification of the city’s bus fleet would require additional study on how best to transform an old system, designed around diesel, to a new system of planning, operation, and maintenance based on new electric bus and charging technologies.

The task force outlined how this feature is a cornerstone of the existing transit system planning and operation, and must be assessed in greater detail to better understand the implications of using electric buses which have fundamentally different operating characteristics than diesel buses.

The task force also said an important next step to address integration challenges is to deploy a sufficient number of electric buses to confirm they can operate in the real world on a larger scale, citing the need for at least 12 and as many as 20 electric buses representing approximately two to three percent of the current bus fleet.

The funding support proposed in the 2019 preliminary budgets is to study precisely these aspects of bus electrification within the context of the Transit Master Plan currently being finalized.

The July 2016 task force report can be reviewed in full here:

Get smart, Winnipeg!

Preliminary 2019 Budgets Propose to Prioritize Innovation & Technology Investment

Released: 1:54 p.m.

WINNIPEG, MB – Restructuring the existing Corporate Support Services department to create an individual department of Innovation, Transformation, and Technology will help prioritize and support the City of Winnipeg’s efforts to build and operate smarter and more efficiently Mayor Brian Bowman said today.

“These changes and investments help build on the innovation momentum we’ve been building over last several years,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “They will help underscore the importance of using technology and innovation to improve business processes, find ways to be more efficient, and to become a smarter city.”

Historically, operational funding for innovation and technology, customer service and communications, and human resource services was primarily provided through a single departmental envelope. The preliminary 2019 budget reflects the restructuring of the existing department of Corporate Support Services by restating the 2018 budget allocation for Corporate Support Services to better reflect the service areas funded by the department. This proposed change also provides for a much more open and transparent accounting of each service area’s budget.

Funding for the new Innovation, Transformation, and Technology department primarily comes from approximately $20 million previously used to fund the city’s innovation needs through the department of Corporate Support Services. In addition to restating this funding in 2019, the 2019 preliminary operating budget proposes to increase the operating budget for Innovation, Transformation, and Technology by approximately $4.6 million to $25.1 million.

In addition to restating the 2018 budget to reflect the new Innovation, Transformation, and Technology department, the 2019 preliminary operating budget also reflects separate budget lines for the departments of Human Resources and Customer Service and Communications. Previously, the budget for Human Resources was reported under Corporate Support Services, and budget for Customer Service & Communications was reported under Corporate Support Services and the Chief Administrative Office

The preliminary 2019 capital budget proposes to invest over $11 million in 2019 to support a program of innovation and transformation projects as well as $45 million over the next five years.

Some of the initiatives include:

  • $11 million over six years to support the Smart Cities Innovation Program that will look at ways to build on the leading edge Transportation Management Centre’s video management system as well as ways to provide motorists and emergency responders with active train information;
  • $1.9 million over six years to upgrade information security systems to protect against rapidly increasing number of threats to city business systems;
  • $3.4 million over six years to migrate civic departments to the new P25 radio network; and
  • $1.5 million over six years for an enterprise content management system to improve documentation for the decision making process to address, for example, shortfalls identified by the independent fairness commissioner in capturing decisions made to support the Real Estate Transaction Management Framework.

Reducing combined sewer overflow events supported in 2019 preliminary budget

Released: 1:56 p.m.

WINNIPEG, MB – The 2019 preliminary budgets propose to invest $31 million this year into the city’s combined sewer overflow and basement flood management strategy as part of a $169 million six-year plan to reduce basement flooding and reduce combined sewer overflow events.

“Addressing the incidence of overflow events and improving the quality of our city’s rivers are priorities for many Winnipeg residents,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “This year’s preliminary budget proposes to invest a significant amount of resources to address combined sewer overflow events as well as further protect against basement flooding.”

The 2019 preliminary capital budget proposes to invest $31.1 million into the combined sewer overflow strategy this year. This represents a 31 percent increase in 2019 from what was forecasted in the 2018 adopted capital budget. The $169 million six-year forecast proposed in the 2019 preliminary budget for this program represents about a seven percent increase over the six-year period forecasted in the 2018 adopted capital budget.

In November 2017, Manitoba Sustainable Development, as part of the city’s environmental license, directed the City of Winnipeg to implement measures by 2045 to capture a minimum of 85 percent of combined sewer overflow volume in a representative year.

Capital funding included in the 2019 preliminary budgets are for the implementation of a Combined Sewer Overflow Plan, sewer relief works associated with basement flooding, and mitigation of combined sewer overflow events with upgrades to sewers, chambers, weirs, and other related works.

A component of Winnipeg’s sewer system is designed to collect both land drainage (rainwater and snowmelt) and wastewater (sewage from homes and businesses) in the same pipe. Most of the time, during dry weather conditions, these combined sewer systems transport all of the land drainage and wastewater to a sewage treatment plant where it is treated and then discharged to the river.

During wet weather events, however, the system is often unable to handle all of the water entering the system and it overflows directly to the rivers. These overflow events protect basements from flooding.

There are approximately 1,037 kilometres of combined sewers in the city representing approximately 31 percent of the city’s total sewer system. Since 1977, more than $330 million has been invested to improve the city's sewer system.

In 2002, a Manitoba Conservation study undertook a review of river data between 1994 and 2001. This report estimated that Winnipeg’s combined sewer overflows contribute only 0.1 percent of total nitrogen, and 0.3 percent of total phosphorus to Lake Winnipeg suggesting these events have minimal environmental impact on the lake.

Public safety key priority in 2019 preliminary budgets

Fire, Paramedic, and Police Services Account for 45 Percent of Tax Supported Budget

Released: 1:59 p.m.

WINNIPEG, MB – The 2019 preliminary budgets propose significant investments in both the Winnipeg Police Service as well as the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service whose combined budgets represent 45 percent of the overall tax supported budget.

The 2019 preliminary operating budget proposes to invest $301.4 million into the Winnipeg Police Service, another historic amount of annual funding. This represents an increase of $10 million or 3.4 percent from funding levels adopted by Council in 2018.

This year marks a transition year for the Winnipeg Police Board strategic plan. It is the last year in its five-year strategic plan. The existing Winnipeg Police Board strategic plan covers the five-year period, 2015 to 2019. Beginning this year, the Board will be working on and preparing its next five-year plan for 2020-2024.

The 2019 preliminary operating budget also proposes to invest $201.5 million into the fire paramedic service. This represents an increase of approximately $8 million or 4.2 percent from funding levels adopted by Council in 2018.

The majority of these increases is to fulfill obligations under city’s existing collective agreements as well as important investments in safety as determined by the Winnipeg Police Board and the police service.

When combined, operating funding to the Winnipeg Police Service and the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service comprises almost half – 45 percent – of the total tax supported operating budget.

The 2019 preliminary budget also includes a recommendation to transfer $100,000 each year over the next four years from the Civic Initiatives, Promotional, and Protocol grant program to the General Purpose Reserve Fund to support the establishment of a Community Safety and Crime Prevention program.

In addition to proposing an operating funding increase, more than $4.6 million in capital support to the police service is being proposed in 2019. The six-year capital budget for the police service totals $25.5 million. Capital investments proposed in 2019 reflect the need for significant upgrades to various information technology systems including:

  • $1 million to begin replacing about 200 mobile laptops located in cruiser cars and upgrading the modems and mounting brackets; and
  • About $3 million to maintain and upgrade various other information systems.

More than $16 million in capital support is proposed to the fire paramedic service in 2019. The fire paramedic service’s six-year capital budget totals $47.5 million. Capital investments proposed in 2019 include:

  • $11.2 million for a new computer aided dispatch system to modernize and improve communications within the fire paramedic service;
  • $1.4 million to replace equipment including air compressors required to fill firefight breathing apparatus, cardiac monitors and defibrillators, and power stretchers; and
  • $3.4 million to maintain and repair fire paramedic stations.
March 1, 2019