Robert-Falcon Ouellette - Winnipeg Mayoral Candidate

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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 Robert-Falcon Ouellette'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?

When it comes to procurement, my initial focus has been on reducing corruption and conflicts of interests between campaign donors and elected officials. This is to reduce waste, but also to reinstate a sense of fairness in the procurement process, so that people who seek to supply services for the city know they have a fair chance of getting the job.

Another main theme of my campaign has been long-term planning – that is, trying to address solutions today so that we will leave a better city to our children in 20 years.

I agree that when it comes to sourcing we need to look at the broader benefits to society and that Winnipeg-based social enterprises and other CED related organizations must be able to participate in procurement. That being said, I am in favour of including Community Benefit Clauses in contracts and purchases.

Community Economic Development organizations have played an important part in helping Winnipeg’s history. In addition, social enterprises offer a tremendous means of providing employment and training opportunities to marginalized persons in Winnipeg. The Winnipeg based social enterprise Soup Bee is an excellent example of this type of societal benefit.

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?

In my policy announcement “A City for ALL OUR Children”, I stated that improving housing and reducing poverty will affect the lives of children profoundly.

One of the ways I have done this is by promising a requirement for developers, based on the Calgary model, that 10% of all new units and developments must be set aside for affordable or social housing. Another is the Toronto Model, which would have the City develop housing units with 15% set aside at subsidized rates and 85% at market rates, so that they can pay for themselves.

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?

Yes, I am in favour of such a plan. When compared to other provinces, Manitoba has one of the highest rates of child poverty. Childhoods spent in poverty diminish hope for the next generation of adults and their children. Implementing a successful poverty reduction strategy ideally requires the participation and partnership of other levels of government as well as community organizations.

There are different aspects to poverty reduction, and they all relate to lowering barriers to access for:

  • affordable housing
  • affordable, healthy food
  • access to education
  • access to economic opportunities

I mentioned some of my plans for affordable housing. There are also a number of ways the City can address access to healthy food, through community gardens, green carts, and tax incentives for a downtown grocery store.

When it comes to access to education and economic opportunities, this may mean real, physical access: the ability of people to get to school, to a grocery store, or to work easily. This is a job for Public Transit. I have proposed a three part plan for Public Transit: Cancelling the southern leg of BRT, which is too expensive, and implementing a Metro-Bus system instead, which would improve bus service all over the city. Second, I would seek to relocate the rail yards and rail traffic out of the city, which would remove the obstacle of the Logan yards and create opportunities for redevelopment – parks, residences and more – in the downtown core. The final stage would be to use existing rail lines for an LRT system.

Aside from improved access to affordable housing, we could also explore models like the Harlem Children’s Zone, pioneered by Geoffrey Canada in New York, to work with families to provide support and improve educational and health outcomes for families with children, but this is a program that should be developed with the Province.