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City gearing up to help small businesses in new preliminary budget: finance minister

winnipeg city hall global news
Winnipeg city hall. Jeremy Desrochers / Global News

Small businesses might find relief in the pages of the city’s 2021 preliminary budget.

It will be tabled on Friday which is when city finance chair aid Coun. Scott Gillingham told CJOB owners will learn more details.

Read more: Manitoba business grant program open for applications: Pallister

However, Gillingham said it’s not as easy for the city to lend a hand.

“The city has limited tools to help businesses compared to the capacity the federal and provincial governments have available to them,” Gillingham said.

He added conversations with the Canadian Federation of Independent Business, the Winnipeg Chamber of Commerce and small biz owners are ongoing.

The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted finances in nearly all sectors and when the final numbers were crunched, the city wasn’t immune.

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Read more: City of Winnipeg releases financial forecast

Gillingham said while the most recent numbers suggest a small year-end surplus of about 1 million dollars, the deficit is incomparable.

“If you take a look at the entire city, across all city departments — including Transit and parking — then we’re looking at a city-wide deficit of $23 million at the end of the year,” he said.

Gillingham said the surplus was only possible due to the number of actions taken to reduce non-discretionary spending, like temporarily laying off employees working in the community services department and Winnipeg Transit.