Manitoba

COVID-19 cuts into Winnipeg police revenues while expenses rise

There are significant holes forming in the Winnipeg Police Service budget as the effects of the COVID-19 health crisis eat into its revenues and increase expenses.

Photo radar revenue falls as stay-home orders reduce traffic on streets

The full effects of COVID-19 pandemic on Winnipeg Police Service revenues and expenses may not be known for some time. (Trevor Brine/CBC)

There are significant holes forming in the Winnipeg Police Service budget as the effects of the COVID-19 health crisis eat into its revenues and increase expenses.

With fewer motorists on the street as people stay home during the pandemic, money coming from photo radar tickets has dropped substantially, according to a report delivered this week to the City of Winnipeg's police board.

The service now says it expects to collect $6.9 million less than originally anticipated in revenue from the fines. 

The report shows projections of overall revenue dropping by $7.9 million, while expenses have risen by $5.6 million.

The police service also expects to collect $2 million less than budgeted for handing out tickets the old-fashioned way — by traffic officers on the streets.

Ticket revenue is expected to fall by millions of dollars by the end of the year, putting more pressure on the Winnipeg police budget, a new report says. (Brett Purdy/CBC)

An arbitrator's decision to side with the Winnipeg Police Association on changing pensions for officers has affected the police budget as well. 

The city had hoped to save $6 million in the coming year from changes it made to the pension. In fact, the city had to pay a total of more than $600,000 in damages to the union and each member of the Winnipeg Police Service, after the arbitrator ruled the move breached the union's collective bargaining agreement.

On a call with reporters Tuesday, Winnipeg police Chief Danny Smyth said there was "no indication of any layoffs" coming because of the shortfall, but acknowledged the budget is a concern his management team will have to work on with the police board and city administration.

In the past, Smyth has suggested less money for the police service from city coffers could mean fewer officers on the street.

The report to the police board warns the full extent of the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic has not been calculated yet.

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