There will be no Winnipeg police officers laid off, after city council approved a last ditch plan that could include cuts in other areas.
Council approved the 2016 capital and operating budgets by matching 10-6 votes. Councillors Matt Allard, Russ Wyatt, Cindy Gilroy, Shawn Dobson, Ross Eadie and Jason Schreyer voted against the budgets.
The highlight on budget day was a motion from Winnipeg Police Board Chair Scott Gillingham to find $2.45 million dollars in savings within the police budget. That covers a budget shortfall that could have seen officers laid off and the cadet program cut entirely.
The savings will come partly from scrapping a pilot project that would have seen some officers wear body cameras. Axing that will save $1 million dollars.
It will be up to police to find the other $1.45 million dollars in savings over the next year. Gillingham says the cuts could come in lots of different areas.
“It may be equipment. A deferral of equipment purchases for example,” he says.
The motion passed by a 12-4 vote. Councillors Russ Wyatt, Jason Schreyer, Ross Eadie and Shawn Dobson voted against.
Police Association President Maurice Sabourin says he’s worried that could include cuts to training too He says those cuts could impact the safety of the public and officers.
“The budget as proposed is not sufficient to maintain the current levels of service to the citizens of Winnipeg. I think the citizens of Winnipeg are the ones who are going to be suffering,” he says. “We’re wondering what the price of a life is.”
He suggested the new armoured vehicle police bought last year could be on the chopping block too.
Sabourin says he’s pleased to see all officers keep their job but accused Mayor Brian Bowman of “ramming through” the budget. He told reporters after the vote the police union was “very disappointed” in Bowman.
The police budget takes up a large and growing chunk of the financial pie at city hall. It increased by over 6 per cent this year but that’s less than police were asking for.