For Immediate Release (Treaty One, Winnipeg): October 3, 2022
CODE RED: WINNIPEG FIRE AND PARAMEDIC INFRASTRUCTURE DEFICIT LOOMING – NEW REPORT
For Immediate Release (Treaty One, Winnipeg): A new report outlines the critical decline of Winnipeg’s Fire and Paramedic infrastructure, including backlogs in basic station and equipment maintenance, which is now impacting service delivery and workplace health and safety. “Code Red: Winnipeg’s Fire and Paramedic Service Infrastructure Deficit” by Niall Harney and Jack Macaulay is published by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Manitoba office.
The diminishing condition of municipal infrastructure creates significant hazards for City workers and the public. Calls to fire and paramedic services have increased far beyond projected levels in recent years. With calls to WFPS increasing, the deteriorating condition of stations and equipment elevates risks posed to the public and fire and paramedic staff.
The decline of WFPS stations and equipment has been exacerbated by frozen provincial funding for ambulance services delivered by WFPS on behalf of Shared Health. A lack of investment in WFPS stations, trucks or other equipment is raising questions about the City’s capacity to manage spikes in emergency calls.
Decisions by Council to starve the City of revenue over the last two decades, alongside continued suburban sprawl, has intensified Winnipeg’s infrastructure woes. The City is struggling to build WFPS infrastructure at the pace of suburban development on the edges of the City, creating concerns over long response times. At the same time, the City is not keeping up with basic maintenance of existing facilities facing an increasing volume of calls.
“The City must develop a plan to ensure the safety of all who work in WFPS facilities, and to ensure facilities meet the future needs of Winnipeggers. New revenue will be required to cover this increase, through property taxes, business taxes, or reintroduction of the impact fee.” says Niall Harney, Errol Black Chair in Labour Issues at the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives – Manitoba. “The City and the Province need to work together to ensure that ambulance services are adequately funded, and equipment and facilities are sufficient.”
“We are now at a point where neglect has become a serious safety concern” says Tom Bilious, President of the United Firefighters of Winnipeg.
The report finds that addressing the infrastructure deficit in the WFPS will require nearly doubling the currently planned capital expenditure ($74 million). Through a social procurement process, these upgrades could offer an economic development opportunity for Winnipeg while helping the City meet other policy goals, like poverty reduction or reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
With the upcoming City of Winnipeg election on October 26, 2022, this report provides important information for voters and candidates on the need to address infrastructure challenges at the City of Winnipeg.
The Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives is an independent, charitable research institute. All research is peer reviewed and CCPA MB has final editorial control.
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