March 17, 2020
For Immediate Release (Winnipeg):
The Social Planning Council of Winnipeg (SPCW) and the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Manitoba (CCPA – MB) call on Winnipeg Mayor and Council to stop the cuts to Community Services, especially the 10% community grant cuts proposed in the 2020-2023 Winnipeg budget. We join the Amalgamated Transit Union 1505, CUPE Manitoba, and the Winnipeg Association of Public Service Officers to postpone all committee budget hearings and the special budget meeting of Winnipeg Council.
Community Services and the community-based organizations City grants help fund do important work with vulnerable people in our community and on important environmental initiatives. Now is not the time to cut funding to groups on the frontlines.
“In 1976, The City of Wpg provided an old church on the corner of Ross and Sherbrook to start an innovative drop-in centre. In doing so they provided a place of safety, belonging, opportunity and employment for thousands of inner city children and youth. The needs have grown, not diminished. The city wants to be a place where all its citizens thrive and community based services provide the ground floor for making that vision come true.” Says Phil Chiappetta, Executive Director, Rossbrook House
“The proposed cuts to community-based organizations are a regrettable and short sighted decision that fails to recognize the invaluable contributions of community organizations who support thousands of Winnipeggers. There is indisputable evidence that community based programs bring neighbours together, safeguard communities, increase the mental wellbeing of all, lead to better educational outcomes, reduce interactions with justice systems… the list goes on and on.” Dorota Blumczynska, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba (IRCOM).
“Community-based groups funded by the City need more financial support to deal with this uncertainty at this time, not less. Community-based groups will be asked by program participants for support during this crisis. At the very least, the budget should not be rushed into until we know all the ramifications of COVID-19 ” says Kate Kehler, Executive Director of the SPCW.
“The community grants program is key to the City’s role as spelled out in the Charter ‘…to promote and maintain the health, safety, and welfare of the inhabitants’. There are options to make up these cuts as demonstrated in the 2018 Alternative Municipal Budget” explains Molly McCracken, director of CCPA MB.
“These decisions will have significant implications for all Winnipeggers, and especially for the one in ten residents of Winnipeg who live below Canada’s Official Poverty Line. Because of these huge consequences, the budget process should be subject to increased public accountability and should not be rushed at a time of crisis.” says Allen Mankewich, Public Policy and Communications Coordinator at SEED Winnipeg.
“Persons living with disabilities are one of the marginalized groups that may have endure devastating impact as a result of COVID-19. It is critical that the city budget be postponed until people living with disabilities are able to be at the table and voice their opinion on the potential devastating consequences that it will have on the inclusion of marginalized populations in our city”, says Carlos Sosa, disability activist.
Those impacted by poverty and low incomes have few extra resources to deal with the COVID 19 pandemic. Research from the latest State of the Inner City Report found that conditions of poverty: low income, lack of adequate housing, lack of family resources make people and communities vulnerable. Community-based organizations are governed by the communities they serve and are driven to do what they can to support families through the COVID pandemic. They need adequate resources to do so. Now is not the time for the City to roll back support.
SPCW and CCPA MB call on the Mayor and Council to request the province to delay the 2020/21 budget until after COVID 19 and reverse the proposed cuts in Budgets 2020 -2023.
More info/ background:
The SPCW provides leadership that addresses inequity and improves social conditions through research, engagement and action
CCPA MB is a charitable research institute active in Manitoba since 1997.