On March 22, Winnipeg City Council approved its 2023 budget update. The budget had some important investments, with a few amendments included at the last minute, to support inclusive, sustainable, and equitable communities in Winnipeg.
The We Want to Work coalition was successful in its advocacy to see important resources for the Sustainable Procurement Action Plan included in Budget 2023. This is great news that should be celebrated! Read more below.
However, the City budget continues to largely prioritize policing and pavement. Many CCEDNet members and communities were calling instead for greater investments into the root causes of poverty such as lack of affordable and safe housing, community services like libraries, transit, and recreation, investments that build up our climate resilience such as transit and active transportation, and community-led safety alternatives such as the Community Safety Host program at Millennium Library, more 24-Hour Safe Spaces, and harm reduction initiatives.
While the City has a number of important strategies and policies that have been developed in response to and alongside community calls, such as OurWinnipeg 2045, the Winnipeg Indigenous Accord, Poverty Reduction Strategy, Climate Action Plan, Newcomer Welcome & Inclusion Policy, and others, the budget did not adequately invest the dollars needs to resource and implement all of the important municipal measures in these strategies.
Thanks in part to the advocacy of anti-poverty, community, and climate activists, the budget maintained an investment in three staff dedicated to housing, introduced a senior planner and green building specialist to advance the Winnipeg Climate Action Plan, and provided increased dollars for Amoowigamig (public washroom run by Ma Mawi Wi Chi Itata Centre), but more is needed.
Many CCEDNet Manitoba member organizations and coalitions supported by members have been organizing towards a vision of a City budget that prioritizes sustainable, equitable, and inclusive communities directing their own future, and this budget could have done much, much more to get closer to this vision.
In Fall 2023, Winnipeg will be debating a new, four-year budget for 2024-2028. This will be an important moment to continue community advocacy for this collective vision. If you are not already, get involved in Winnipeg advocacy coalitions and groups focused on these issues.
Sustainable Procurement Action Plan – celebrating a community win!
The We Want to Work coalition, including CCEDNet member social enterprises and community organizations in Winnipeg, are celebrating (and breathing a sigh of relief) as resources for the Sustainable Procurement Action Plan were included in this budget.
Months after the We Want to Work coalition celebrated the approval of the Sustainable Procurement Action Plan (SPAP) in July 2022, the City of Winnipeg has included two crucial items in its latest budget. These are a Sustainable Procurement Liaison as a permanent position within the City of Winnipeg, and resources for external expertise and roundtable support for Buy Social Canada to continue facilitation and development in phase 2 of the SPAP.
The inclusion of a Sustainable Procurement Liaison as a permanent position is a significant step towards integrating social, economic, and environmental value into the city’s purchasing needs. The liaison will serve as a dedicated staff person to support the SPAP and ensure its successful implementation.
In addition, the funding to engage Buy Social Canada for phase 2 will enable them to continue providing expert advice and examples from other jurisdictions to strengthen the plan; while gaining insights and support from a local roundtable. This support is essential to the success of the SPAP and will help to refine policy over the next few years.
The We Want to Work coalition of social enterprises, with backbone support from CCEDNet-Manitoba, has worked tirelessly for nearly 10 years to advocate for the SPAP.
With the inclusion of these important items in the budget, the City of Winnipeg is investing in the type of policies, strategies, and initiatives that get closer to a vision of sustainable and inclusive communities directing their own futures.
This is significant city policy that has the potential to create positive impacts for the community, the economy, and the environment.
This amendment would not have been included without important collaboration between community members and the City of Winnipeg.
We appreciate the members of City Council and the Mayor who supported this, as well as members of the Public Service, for their ongoing support as we work together to build more equitable and sustainable communities.
Further, community organizations, industry associations, and labour organizations all collaborated together to advocate for the inclusion of these resources, and many delegates spoke to the City Council about how critical it was to include them. This important contribution to the future of our city should be acknowledged – thank you!