The city’s preliminary multi-year budget was released this afternoon. While we expected things to be bad on the police budget front, it’s somehow even worse than anticipated.

Over the next four years, the Winnipeg Police’s total annual budget (which includes all revenue sources, including provincial funding) is set to increase from 2023 figures by a massive $36.5 million, hitting $363.5 million in 2027. The city’s contribution to this, reported as “mill rate support” due to its funding from property taxes, will increase by $30.9 million over this span, reaching $312.2 million per year in 2027.

In 2024, the WPS is budgeted to spend more than $332 million, compared to $110 million for all of Community Services (which includes libraries, pools, arenas, and Leisure Guide) and $115 million towards public transit. Of this, the city is covering $278.5 million, about 85 percent.

Pie chart of total expenses by department. WPS is by far the largest with $332.5 million in 2024, compared to only $110 million for Community Services.

Almost all of this will be going into paying the ever-higher salaries and benefits for cops already making six-figures. Due to the recent actuary-recommended reduction in the City’s pension contribution rate for the police, which has cut costs by $24 million in 2024, the budget line for both salaries and benefits and mill rate support is reported as a reduction of $2.5 million and $2.8 million in 2024, respectively, which seems to be a win.

But if you read the fine print, you’ll see that the salaries and benefits for the WPS is set to increase by $15.6 million in 2024 alone. And this doesn’t even include the extra $4.8 million in provincial funding to hire more cops to patrol the downtown. The way that the City is reporting this data obscures the extreme spike in police compensation. This reduction has nothing to do with actual long-term budget reductions and is instead a momentarily blip due to complex pension accounting. Cops have already blown through these savings and will almost certainly do the same in 2024, and then demand yet another bailout from council.

In the following three years, city funding of the WPS is budgeted to increase by an enormous $33.7 million from 2024 levels. Specifically:

  • 2025: $11.7 million increase, reaching $290.3 million
  • 2026: $14.1 million increase, reaching $304.3 million
  • 2027: $7.8 million increase, reaching $312.2 million

To reiterate: city council is planning to give the Winnipeg Police a $31 million raise over the next four years. At the same time, countless life-sustaining services remain underfunded or unfunded altogether. Mayor Scott Gillingham, finance chair Jeff Browaty, and police board chair Markus Chambers are continuing to pillage the city’s most vital services in order to satisfy the unrelenting greed of the cops and their "union."

About 1,300 WPS employees already make at least $100,000 a year. They will be receiving even bigger paycheques in the coming years, at the same time as the WPS and "union" complain about lack of personnel. Meanwhile, WPS district stations still aren’t even open to the public. Adding insult to injury is that we know that many cops don’t even live in Winnipeg, meaning their own property taxes are funneled to neighbouring towns.

In the coming weeks, council will claim that they have no choice: that the collective bargaining agreement that they recently negotiated with the Winnipeg Police Association binds their hands when it comes to salaries and benefits. This is a lie. Council can and should slash the police budget, requiring the police board and WPS to administer layoffs, an overtime ban, and attrition. As the police board itself notes, council “may choose to increase investment in the Service, use investment in other areas to promote public safety, or balance the funding needs of the Winnipeg Police Service with municipal budget constraints.”

A $31 million raise to the WPS over four years is a total affront to the supposedly “tough decisions” being demanded of almost every other city service, as well as a refusal of empirical evidence about the lack of relationship between policing and safety. It is an insult to all the communities and organizations that have demanded for years a defunding of police and refunding of life-sustaining services. It is especially egregious in the context of the ongoing killing spree by the WPS of Black and Indigenous people in recent months including Elias Whitehead, Dustin Hatcher, Afolabi Opaso, and James Wood.

Please contact your councillor and mayor by phone and email to express your opposition to this appalling giveaway to the WPS. Here is a list of contact information. It is imperative that they are told directly and repeatedly that Winnipeg will not allow this.

Draft letter to councillor

Dear Councillor RECIPIENTNAME,

I am appalled to learn that the City of Winnipeg is set to increase its annual funding of police by an $31 million by 2027. This is an unsustainable and unjust trajectory and I demand that you advocate for the reallocation of this funding from the 1,300 cops making six-figure salaries towards life-sustaining services that actually keep people safe.



City council ward

Tags: budget