With the 2018 Winnipeg Mayoral Election quickly approaching, the Youth Parliament of Manitoba asked candidates running to be Winnipegâ€™s next mayor to take stances in regard to two key issues that are prevalent in our city.
First: It has been reported that 14% of non-Indigenous, and 35% of Indigenous Winnipeggers live in poverty, for a total of over 100,000 people living below the poverty line. Cities such as Edmonton and Calgary have recently taken mayor-driven action to reduce their poverty, such as transportation, housing, and employment reform. What are some actions youâ€™d take as mayor to address financial disparities between Indigenous and non-Indigenous populations, and the high rates of poverty at large?
Second: The City of Winnipeg offers many services for youth, such as public swimming pools and skating rinks, Youth Action Centres, community centres, and library programs. What are some improvements youâ€™d like to make to these services, and how will you prioritize the funding of these services in the municipal budget?
Below are the responses made by Brian Bowman, Don Woodstock, and Tim Diack:
In regard to poverty:
“The Mayor has an incredibly important leadership role in working toward Reconciliation, which is part and parcel of closing the gap between Indigenous and non-Indigenous Winnipeggers. As Mayor I worked with my Indigenous Advisory Circle, in consultation and collaboration with numerous community leaders and organizations, to create the City of Winnipegâ€™s Indigenous Accord. The Accord is a living document to guide our shared commitment to the Journey of Reconciliation in Winnipeg. Through our work together, we hope to effect a positive change in Winnipeg through our knowledge and perceptions of Indigenous history, culture, and peoples, through understanding the state of the current relationship between non-Indigenous and Indigenous peoples, and through creating partnership-based initiatives that recognize and respect the rights of Indigenous peoples.
As we grow, so too will our diversity and our need to ensure weâ€™re building a more inclusive and city for all Winnipeggers. I am committed to working with a range of community organizations to reduce poverty in our city and improve the lives of all Winnipeggers. I acknowledge that poverty is complex and that poverty reduction can be effective only when all levels of government and community stakeholders work collaboratively. The City of Winnipeg, given its jurisdictional and fiscal limitations, cannot reduce poverty alone.
The City of Winnipeg tackles poverty on many fronts, including grant funding to numerous community organizations as well as the Winnipeg Housing Rehabilitation Corporation, and a Fee Subsidy Program for recreation and leisure for families falling below the Low Income Cut Off, all of which I continue to support. During my term in office, I supported multi-year funding to End Homelessness Winnipeg and the Community Homelessness Assistance Team (CHAT), and I will continue to support their good work into the future. I also facilitated the creation of an Unsafe Panhandling Steering Committee made up of numerous stakeholders, including those with lived experience, to connect panhandlers to a continuum of services. I recently supported a pilot project that will see Mother Earth Recycling divert discarded mattresses and spring boxes from the landfill and employ individuals with multiple barriers to employment. Finally, CentreVenture is currently accepting Expressions of Interest from non-profit housing developers to build affordable units at Market Lands where the former PSB and civic parkade stand.
But there is still more we can do. That is why I will work with the new Council on specific measures to further reduce poverty in Winnipeg and on introducing a new low-income bus pass. Moreover, I am committed to having the City of Winnipeg continue funding End Homelessness Winnipeg into the future.”
In regard to youth services:
“We are a growing city and we need a positive vision and balanced plan today for a future we know will impose greater demands on our city infrastructure and services. For many years, City Hall allowed infrastructure and services to languish and deteriorate. Over the last four years, we have been playing catch-up to compensate for those lost years. A stable, balanced approach focused on strategic investments will ensure that our city infrastructure and services are responsive to Winnipeggersâ€™ needs and are no longer lagging behind. That is why, for example, we have invested in our city-owned public libraries, swimming pools, and spray pads.
Building and preparing Winnipeg today for a population growing toward one million people strong requires additional investment in community centres as well as the thousands of volunteers committed to running them. If re elected, I would increase the budget for the cityâ€™s existing Community Centre Renovation Grant Program from the current level of $965,000 a year to $2 million annually for five years. Furthermore, I have committed to working with Council and key stakeholders to identify additional funding for a new recreational centre in Waverley West.
I will also continue to support the $1,250,000 in grant funding provided by the City for the Indigenous Youth Strategy, important funding that supports community-based organizations that provide employment development programs to Indigenous youth.”
“I work as a police officer in the poorest postal codes in Canada. I am married to a WSD teacher who has worked with under supported children. I can go on and on about the horrible conditions Iâ€™ve seen children in. I also hear the â€œnot my problem, who pays for thatâ€ people. Ok, I simply put it as â€œfeed them now or feed them in prisonâ€ Blunt, not kind, but puts perspective to those who resist doing the right thing. Which is helping those with less resource. I have forwarded a proper breakfast program and paying teachers for after school activities.
Calgaryâ€™s pro-rated fees for public services. This is a structure I would like to follow. I would also fund a return of Police and Pal which would provide opportunity for disadvantaged, impoverished youth to experience things like scuba, canoeing, camping, sports, and other activities. This program was destroyed by the WFP twenty years ago and no one wants to volunteer since.
Iâ€™m not soft on reconciliation which is suggested when Indigenous ethnicity is referenced as a measure. I want this issue to go away. I want to know how to measure progress, no over representation in CFS, health care, corrections, and truancy. I want the suicide rate to drop. I want my grandkids to wonder why it took so long to fix it. As a mayor Iâ€™ll fix what I can and get the other levels of government; Indigenous Provincial and Federal to fix what I canâ€™t.
This is a key issue for Winnipegâ€™s future. Iâ€™m a community police officer in Point Douglas. These programs have a significant impact on these kids lives. Iâ€™ve been inspired to run for public office because of my experiences with this issue.”
“First, I will cut-off ALL corporate welfare. No more taxpayers’ dollars given to millionaires. Let them go to the bank and borrow their own money.
My first campaign pillar is – ending homelessness – A ‘Housing First’ action will be undertaken by my administration, which will see the Planning Dept fast-tracking all applications that addresses affordable, low income housing. Securing the needed funds for many projects.
The next pillar is “Sports Capital not crime capital” – this will see a $250-$350M annual investment in the core neighbourhoods for recreational centres, sports activities, music, arts, etc. as this is the one way that we will increase the outlook of the city from the investor’s perspective, hence business will grow, investment will come in, and jobs created. Safety & a robust neighbourhoods will bring investment. I want to our children playing hockey in an arena, then sitting in a jail cell.
The Final part of this is my Human Rights policy that all levels of employment at the City will be opened equally regardless of race, colour or creed, which is not the case today. I hope as the City leads by example – other businesses will follow.
When our core is healthy – our city will be healthy.”
We at The Youth Parliament of Manitoba are all very excited for the upcoming election, and hope these responses help readers learn more about the potential future leader of Winnipeg. Furthermore, we would like to stress just how important it is for young people LIKE YOU to get engaged and vote in elections. So get out there, voice your opinion, and make a difference in creating a better and brighter Winnipeg!