JOINT STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, December 14, 2021
Over the last several years, City Council has been divided by design. A majority group of Council members are appointed by the Mayor and is referred to as “EPC plus two”, which represents a voting majority of Council.
This process is most evident during the yearly City of Winnipeg operating and capital budgeting process. Members of City Council have publicly shared multiple times their disappointment with the lack of openness and transparency of the budget process where members are provided with less then two weeks to conduct proper analysis, scrutiny and due diligence on a budget that is over $2 Billion Dollars.
The Councillors who are not members of the EPC plus two are typically disregarded under the current strong mayor model and are provided minimal opportunity to engage in the budget debates and ward specific requests. As noted, and reported in the Winnipeg Free Press Article “Closed-door majority - Winnipeg mayor's unofficial 'EPC+2' puts him at unfair advantage: critics” dated Dec. 20, 2019.
This process is never collaborative, open or transparent with all 15 City Councillors who represent over 800,000 taxpayers. Which is why a joint effort by seven City Councillors (in alphabetical order, Ross Eadie, Kevin Klein, Janice Lukes, Shawn Nason, Vivian Santos, Jason Schreyer, and Devi Sharma) who represent over 350,000 Winnipeggers are offering the attached omnibus motion at the upcoming Special Meeting of Winnipeg City Council on Wednesday, December 15, 2021. An amending motion where this group of Councillors agrees is a fair and reasonable representation of all residents from every corner of the city.
(Councillor comments below in alphabetical order)
Councillor Ross Eadie states that, “The City of Winnipeg Charter is clear that all Members of Council pass budgets. What has been clearly demonstrated this year is all Members of Council are not given an equal representation on behalf of our wards in budget decision making. It has been refreshing for me to have worked with six of my under supported colleagues this year towards a budget that cares about the whole city.”
Councillor Kevin Klein states that, “This budget process favours some and fails many. It’s not about doing what’s best for the city, it’s about gaining enough votes through special projects. The fact is many corners of the city are not fairly represented in this budget. This motion is fair and reasonable and reflective of the entire city. No changes were made to the special projects of the EPC plus two members. We worked as a team and considered all members of Council’s specific requests. I hope this leadership can see the importance and value of truly working together.”
Councillor Janice Lukes states that, “The governance model being used to define budget priorities and taxation of residents is over a quarter century old. Old Kildonan and Mynarski residents have not been allowed Councillor representation on the budget working committee for over a decade. In 2014, the mayor campaigned to change this model but we are still running a city on an outdated governance model. Today’s motion is seeking fair representation in the budget process for all residents on behalf of their respective Councillors.”
Councillor Shawn Nason states that, “A motion of this nature shows what can be accomplished when everyone has a voice. This is a step towards a Council that will work as a consensus city building for the future.”
Councillor Vivian Santos states that, “During the pandemic, it has been increasingly difficult to be in alignment with the mayor on major issues surrounding the future of Winnipeg and our community’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic. In every single budget deliberation, I advocated for investments in community services, transit, the environment and in the arts. I continue to believe that Winnipeggers not only want a fiscally balanced budget, but they deserve a socially balanced budget regarding our city’s response to COVID-19.”
Councillor Jason Schreyer states that, “The budget process does not represent the concerns of all residents in our City. We are not addressing the true concerns such as the inflation rate continuing to rise and the impact that will have on all city operations and capital projects.”