Manitoba

Manitoba municipalities to receive most operating funds sooner than normal due to COVID-19

Manitoba municipalities will be receiving most of their operating funding from the province sooner than usual because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the province announced Friday.

75% coming now, remainder in the fall, province says, instead of in usual quarterly payments

Municipal Relations Minister Rochelle Squires, seen here in an October 2019 file photo, says the infusion of funding is intended to help municipalities manage the expenses and lost revenues they've seen during the pandemic. (Lyzaville Sale/CBC)

Manitoba municipalities will be receiving most of their operating funding from the province sooner than usual because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the province announced Friday.

The Manitoba government says it will be sending 75 per cent of its operating grants to municipalities now, with the other 25 per cent coming in the fall. 

Normally, the provincial funding for municipalities comes on a quarterly basis.

The infusion of funding is intended to help municipalities manage the expenses and lost revenues they've seen during the pandemic, said the province's municipal relations minister.

"We know that they've deferred a lot of collections," Rochelle Squires said.

"We know they are not collecting interest on some of those deferrals on property tax and school tax collections, and we know that is going to impact their operations."

The City of Winnipeg can expect around $91 million to be transferred to its bank account within the next day or so, said Squires.

On Thursday, Winnipeg Mayor Brian Bowman said he wants to see a new deal for municipal funding, calling the current system "antiquated."

He called for a "renewed partnership between the province and the city to immediately develop and implement a post-pandemic plan for economic recovery."

The pandemic is costing the city up to $12 million a month in lost revenues and added expenses, he said.

The province will provide a total of $172.6 million in municipal operating grants this year.

"Municipalities are on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic, protecting local communities and delivering essential services," Ralph Groening, president of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities, said in a media release Friday.

"Providing a larger portion of operating funding up front will certainly help alleviate the tremendous financial pressures on our members."

With files from Sean Kavanagh

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