Staff and members of the Canadian CED Network – Manitoba (CCEDNet-MB) called on 2014 municipal election candidates to share their position on policies that support our collective vision of fairer and stronger local economies, reduced poverty, and more sustainable communities. This is Glenn Churchill's response:
1. Are you in favour of this policy practice? If yes, how will you work to implement a procurement strategy that takes into account the added economic, social and environmental value of purchasing from social enterprises and other businesses that generate community benefit through the inclusion of Community Benefit Clauses in contracts and purchases?
Municipal government has a variety of responsibilities – to build and support a strong community, to provide effective and efficient services, and to provide careful stewardship of tax dollars. Balancing these responsibilities is essential to good government. Community benefits clauses provide an opportunity to include social benefits such as recruitment and training provisions into a variety of contracts for services, however, the City is obliged to consider these benefits in the context of financial realities.
Some municipalities in Canada have started to move towards social procurement frameworks, such as Toronto’s recent adoption of measures to support social enterprises. The City should learn from their experiences and consider in what circumstances and in what types of contracts would it be appropriate to include Community Benefit Clauses. Any policy consideration would need to take into account existing legal obligations to the City’s unions and the City’s obligations under the interprovincial Agreement on Internal Trade (AIT).
2. Are you in favour of Right to Housing’s proposal that the City of Winnipeg support at least 350 new units of affordable rental housing and 350 new units of social housing over three years? If yes, what City supports will you provide so this target can be achieved?
Improving Winnipeg’s stock of affordable and social housing is an essential need that should be acted on in cooperation with the Province and other stakeholders. A variety of recommendations to increase the number of units, as well as to provide other supports, have been identified through the Rental Housing Supply Roundtable’s Report to the Province, as well as through the Community Task Force to End Homelessness’s Long Term Plan to End Homelessness. Through considering these reports as well as Right to Housing’s recommendations, the City can identify an achievable plan to improve rental housing.
Examples of ways the City could support improvements in the rental housing stock include incentives such as Tax Increment Financing expanded beyond the downtown area or grants to stimulate development of affordable units, as well as developing an improved permit process and making changes to bylaws as appropriate to encourage this development. Development planning in general should include consideration for encouraging rental housing development. Details of how many units are appropriate to support at the present time is not possible without knowing more detail of the cost aspects of the Right to Housing’s plan and their impact on the City’s budget.
3. Are you in favour of a comprehensive poverty reduction strategy for Winnipeg with targets and timelines? If yes, how will you partner with community-based organizations and other key stakeholders to create and implement one?
It is critical for the City to work collaboratively with the Province and the community to address the root causes of poverty. To be effective, the City’s strategy must take into account existing work, research and initiatives, and must be action-based with measurable outcomes. Continuing to be involved in multi-sectoral efforts such as the Winnipeg Poverty Reduction Council is an example of one way the City can have effective collaborative conversations and work towards solutions.