WINNIPEG – Today, Mayor Brian Bowman and Councillor Scott Gillingham (St. James) Chair of the Standing Policy Committee on Finance, announced the initiation of the 2021 City of Winnipeg Budget Review Process. 

“This year, 2020, has been a year like no other and the global pandemic has had a significant financial impact on cities across Canada,” said Mayor Brian Bowman. “Winnipeg has taken a number of proactive measures to help weather the storm and because of those difficult decisions, the City is in a much better position than it could have been. The passage of the multi-year balanced budgets in March was an important starting place that helped put the City on the right path.”

Councillor Scott Gillingham will be actively engaging City Councillors with one-on-one meetings. Input will be sought through a series of meetings with individual Councillors for input on addressing the revenue and expenditure changes that will be faced in 2021. 

“Looking back, it was prudent that the 2021 Budget was balanced in March of 2020 as part of the multi-year balanced budget process. Had Council not adopted a multi-year balanced budget we would be facing a deficit of up to $120 M for 2021 in addition to the financial pressures created by the global pandemic,” said Councillor Gillingham. “The 2021 budget update will focus primarily on adjustments necessary due to the impact of COVID-19, as well as other cost drivers the City experienced this year. As the first annual update to the multi-year balanced budget, adopting the 2021 Budget will be a crucial next step in the ongoing management of City finances.”

The 2021 Budget will seek to address the major changes in revenue and expenses that have occurred since the multi-year balanced budgets were approved in March. These major changes include the long-term impact of COVID-19 on transit ridership and other City services, the arbitrator’s decision on Council-approved changes to the police pension plan and the potential of new funding supports from the provincial and federal governments in response to the pandemic. 

The City will be launching a public engagement process to gain insight from residents into their priorities for the City's budget, and to determine if their experiences during COVID-19 have changed their opinions on City spending. The process will be conducted using an online survey that will be launched in early October.

As with previous years, Mayor Bowman said the budget working group will be working to prepare a preliminary budget that is balanced, limits property tax increases to 2.33 percent, and makes strategic investments necessary to position Winnipeg as its population continues to grow toward a million people. The budget working group will include the chair of each Standing Policy Committee as well as the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and Acting Deputy Mayor.

Residents, community groups, associations, and other stakeholders will have the opportunity to participate and provide further input on the 2021 Budget once the preliminary operating and capital budget recommendations are tabled publicly. It is anticipated the 2021 Budget will come to a vote before the end of the year. The specific tabling date, as well as the Standing Policy Committee meeting schedule to consider the preliminary budget will be announced the coming weeks.