March 21, 2016 3:53 pm
Updated: March 21, 2016 10:33 pm

Winnipeg police cuts loom as budget vote approaches

WATCH: If the 2016 operating budget is approved, up to 80 cuts could be on the way for the Winnipeg Police Service.


WINNIPEG — A vote at city hall tomorrow could mean job cuts for the Winnipeg Police Service.

City councillors will vote on the 2016 operating budget which recommends $280.7 million in spending  for police.

READ MORE: Winnipeg police cadets on the chopping block: Chief

Even though that’s an increase of $16.7 million from last year, the service says it needs an additional $2.45 million or job cuts are a possibility.

Police Chief Devon Clunis has said the shortfall will mean around 80 jobs will have to be eliminated.

RELATED VIDEO: Cadets could be on the chopping block

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Many of those would be cadets, which could put the entire cadet program in jeopardy.

Clunis said cutting other items out of the budget to prevent layoffs wasn’t a possibility,  “When 85 per cent of the budget is salaries and benefits and you’ve squeezed everything you can out of the 15 per cent, again you’d want to look at it very strategically, but we have to explore that.”

READ MORE: Winnipeg Police Board proposes scrapping body-camera pilot program to avoid layoffs

Mayor Brian Bowman and city finance committee chair Marty Morantz have strongly said they believe the increase called for in the proposed budget should be more than enough.

“It may not be exactly what the police service or police board was looking for but it’s pretty close and I’m confident they’ll be able to work within that number,” said Morantz.

However, other city councillors believe police should get the extra $2.45 million. At times, the issue has been hotly debated at city hall, even devolving into name-calling during a meeting last week.

If the current version of the budget is passed and police are given $280.7 million dollars with which to operate next year, that would account for close to 27 per cent of city spending next year.

RELATED: Winnipeg police chief Devon Clunis announces retirement

Ten years ago the city spent 21 per cent of its total budget on policing.

In Saskatoon, Regina and Edmonton police spending accounts for between 14.8 and 21 per cent of total city spending.

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