WINNIPEG — Manitoba Crown corporations are spending hundreds of thousands of taxpayer dollars each year on sponsorship deals with the Winnipeg Jets.
Documents obtained by Global News, through a Freedom of Information request, show Manitoba Hydro and Manitoba Public Insurance spend between $100,000 and $200,000 each season with True North Sports & Entertainment. Global News also put the same request into Manitoba Liquor and Lotteries Commission but it has not yet been returned.
“That could easily be a years worth of power bills for a city block. That’s real money for Manitobans,” Todd Mackay from the Canadian Taxpayers Federation said. “Even if it doesn’t look like a huge amount on the overall balance sheet of Hydro or MPI, that’s a big difference for someone who has to pay their insurance on their car or the power bill on their home.”
Since the Jets returned in 2011 MPI has spent more than $1.3 million on agreements with the team. Manitoba Hydro has spent slightly more than $814,000. That means more than $2 million from taxpayers have been spent supporting the Jets.
“Manitobans don’t have a choice. They have to give that money to those crowns and basically it ends up being a tax,” Mackay said. “So, for them to turn around and give that money to the Jets…. it doesn’t make sense.”
Manitoba Hydro recently announced mass layoffs, with 900 employees expected to receive notices sometime this year. Earlier this week, it also announced the Keeyask Generating Station was 21 months behind schedule and was more than $2.2 billion over budget.
“There’s no question that the crowns need to get expenses under control,” Mackay said. “This is the exact issue that comes up that makes people concerned that there’s a culture of not caring about ratepayers money. They need to take every dollar very seriously and make sure they are getting the maximum bang for the buck for Manitobans.”
Exactly what each crown corporation receives in return was not disclosed. However, if fans take a look around the MTS Centre, signage is clearly visible. The slow motion replay on the Jumbotron is also branded with Manitoba Hydro logos.
Crown Corporations also advertise with other large scale organizations like the Winnipeg Blue Bombers. In this initial request Global News asked for details solely on crown corporation spending with True North.
2011/2012 – $183,456
2012/2013 – $175,300
2013/2014 – $180,559.00
2014/2015 – $185,975.77
2015/2016 – $197,650
2016/2017 – $203,579.50
2017/2018 – $209,686.89
2011/2012 – $177,610
2012/2013 – $182,938.30
2013/2014 – $107,500
2014/2015 – $111,478.50
2015/2016 – $125,350
2016/2017 – $109,232