Manitoba

Winnipeg to delay budget in the hopes of getting more financial intel from Manitoba

Winnipeg's mayor says he's delaying the release of the city's budget for the year in the hopes of receiving a better indication of the provincial funding picture for 2019.

'This isn't Bird Box,' Bowman says of being left in the dark about provincial funding

Mayor Brian Bowman says the city must do "backflips" to reconcile its budget due to provincial-funding uncertainty. (John Einarson/CBC)

Winnipeg's mayor says he's delaying the release of the city's budget for the year in the hopes of receiving a better indication of the provincial funding picture for 2019.

After last fall's election, Brian Bowman said he intended to table this year's budget in February and place it before council the same month.

On Tuesday, he said the city's spending plan for 2019 will arrive one month later to give Brian Pallister's Progressive Conservative government more time to inform the city of its funding intentions.

Bowman said he hopes to gain more clarity and certainty from the province so the city does not have to adjust its budget on the fly later in the year.

"We spend much of the year doing backflips trying to reconcile accounts," Bowman said after the first executive policy committee meeting of the year. 

"This isn't Bird Box. We should be taking our blindfolds off and we should know with greater certainty in advance what we're dealing with so we can make more informed decisions."

Bird Box is a Netflix horror film in which characters wear blindfolds to avoid looking at creatures whose appearance drives most people to kill themselves. Asked whether he's confident Pallister will get the pop-culture reference, the mayor said he's not certain what the premier watches on Netflix.

Bowman said while he has had some conversations with provincial officials, he's seeking funding commitments in writing.

Over the lunch hour, Municipal Relations Minister Jeff Wharton said the talks between the city and province are going well but he did not address the mayor's comments about uncertainty.

Wharton would not say whether provincial funding for the city will remain static or increase this year. Since 2017, the province has frozen most of its funding package for the city at 2016 levels. 

The city usually passes budgets in the fall. It's customary for council to wait until spring after municipal elections.

Winnipeg's mayor says he's delaying the release of the city's budget for the year in the hopes of receiving a better indication of the provincial funding picture for 2019. 1:42