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Advocates ask why Winnipeg Police Service is getting more when community groups are getting less

Advocates ask why Winnipeg Police Service is getting more when community groups are getting less
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WINNIPEG -- When Dorata Blumczyska, executive director for the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization of Manitoba, took the stand to speak at a Winnipeg Police Board meeting, she asked a seemingly simple question:

Why is the Winnipeg Police Service getting more money when community organizations are getting less?

Blumczyska is part of the newly formed Police Accountability Coalition, a group of over 90 community organizations calling for a 10 per cent cut to the Winnipeg Police Service budget, with those funds redirected to community groups.

You have taken money away from our communitys after-school programming for hundreds of children and youth, she said to members of the board and Winnipegs chief of police, noting other initiatives, including literacy programs and homework supports, have seen reduced funding.

Youve taken money away from me and increased the budget of the police service despite mounting evidence that this is not an effective strategy," she said.

Financial records back up Blumczyskas comments, at least when it comes to a growing police budget.

The Winnipeg Police Service budget has almost doubled since 2008, from about $170 million to over $305 million in 2020.

How much the WPSs budget eats into the City of Winnipegs total budget has been on the rise, too.

Back in 2000, the WPS accounted for 16.9 per cent of the citys total budget. The WPSs slice of the citys financial pie went up to about 22 per cent in 2008 and now consumes more than a quarter of the citys total budget.

In Hamilton, Ont., a city of comparable population-size to Winnipeg, the police service accounts for about 10 per cent of the citys total expenses. And in Edmonton, a city with a higher population than Winnipeg, the city spends just under 15 per cent of its total budget on the Edmonton Police Service.

A recent CTV News.ca analysis of 15 cities across Canada found that Winnipeg spends the most on policing in proportion to the citys total budget.

Winnipeg police really stands out in terms of the proportion of their budget that consumes the city budget, said Kevin Walby, a criminology professor at the University of Winnipeg who studies police spending.

Increases to what Winnipeg police officers earn in salaries are the primary driver of the WPSs increasing budget, Walby said, describing it as a culture of cost overrun.
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