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Pandemic cost Manitoba municipalities nearly $92-million in 2021: survey

The Association of Manitoba Municipalities says members are reporting a combined operating loss of nearly $92-million for 2021, as the financial fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic comes into sharper focus. Global News

Manitoba’s municipalities experienced a combined $91.8-million operating loss in 2021, and are anticipating a $53.3-million shortfall this year.

The figures come from the Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM), which sent out a survey at the beginning of January to gauge the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.

AMM says 77 of the province’s 137 municipalities responded; the results were then extrapolated to account for them all.

“These are all costs that municipalities are trying to absorb while trying to balance a budget, and it’s extremely difficult,” says Kameron Blight, AMM’s president.

“In some cases, municipalities have had to cut back services because we only have one way of generating revenues, and that’s through taxation. And the last thing municipalities wanted to do right now is put more pressures on their residents.”

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Blight noted some of the numbers were actually lower than expected, but that came at the expense of municipal services.

In some cases that meant putting capital projects on hold, scaling back resources at facilities and community centres, or cutting back staff.

The results show a slight majority — 52 per cent — believe it will take two to eight years to financially recover, one-third were unsure, and two per cent believed it would take a decade or longer.

They also reported $7.3-million in pandemic costs, such as staffing needs, purchasing protective equipment, and enforcing public health orders.

The AMM intends to provide the findings to the other levels of government as they consider additional financial assistance ahead of spring budgets.

Read more: Manitoba government announces flexible compensation plan for businesses impacted by COVID-19

Blight says while previous transfers are greatly appreciated, the numbers show more support is needed.

“Municipalities are continuing to call upon the federal and provincial governments to provide supports for these municipalities, not just those with transit,” Blight says.

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“We need all municipalities to receive some sort of funding to help them offset the losses they’ve been facing in 2021 and beyond.”

Click to play video: 'City of Winnipeg projects $16.6M deficit due to COVID-19' City of Winnipeg projects $16.6M deficit due to COVID-19
City of Winnipeg projects $16.6M deficit due to COVID-19 – Oct 8, 2021

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