See below to find and email your city councillor
Winnipeg Police Cause Harm (WPCH) has launched a Healthy Communities Survey in response to the City of Winnipeg’s highly biased public survey and consultation process on the police budget.
“The models in the City’s survey completely ignore the well-documented community demands to reduce funding to the Winnipeg Police Service and reallocate its enormous budget to life-sustaining services that actually create safer conditions in our city,” says James Wilt of WPCH. “The City’s current process silences community voices calling to defund the police and shields the police from scrutiny, from accountability, and from real public input.”
The Winnipeg Police is set to spend $320 million in 2022, over one-quarter of the city’s budget – a much higher percentage than most cities in Canada. Yet, according to a Statistics Canada survey released in 2020, Manitoba is “rock bottom among the provinces on the issue of trust in police.” The same survey found that an estimated one-third of Winnipeg residents supported reducing police funding. A Justice4BlackLives Winnipeg petition calling for defunding has received more than 120,000 signatures.
The City already has its own survey data that corroborates plummeting satisfaction with the WPS.
Among the five models in the City’s new survey, the fifth ties police funding to property taxes, which implies a reduction in next year’s budget. However, this is a false and misleading “defund” option because property tax values will be expected to only increase in the future. Like all the other options provided in the City survey, it’s actually a mechanism for the police budget to continue increasing year over year.
“It’s clearly a rigged process. It’s undemocratic and purposefully designed to suppress police accountability and real community input, as other groups including the Police Accountability Coalition have highlighted,” says Rebecca Hume. “A credible, legitimate public survey on police budgeting would not erase widely known community demands and ignore the voices of Indigenous, Black, racialized, unhoused, low-income, and other concerned Winnipeg residents.”
For this reason, WPCH has created its own survey, the Healthy Communities Survey, an email tool for residents to contact their city councilor, as well as proposed speaking points for the online public forums organized by the City between January 18 and February 2, which WPCH encourages residents to participate in.
“We’re a grassroots, volunteer group with no staff, while the City contracted MNP for $150,000 to roll out a bogus public consultation process that may as well have been written and designed by the WPS itself,” says Wilt. “We have to question if City Council is willing to exercise any independence from the cops at all.”
WPCH says that long-term defunding models need to be included in any honest discussion about police budgets in 2022.
Winnipeg Police Cause Harm is a volunteer-run abolitionist organization committed to defunding the Winnipeg Police Service and reallocating resources to life-sustaining services.
Draft letter to councillor
Hi there, my name is [insert name] and I’m a resident of Winnipeg [specify ward if writing to councillor]. I am reaching out to you today to voice my dissatisfaction with this public engagement process on the police budget. It is unacceptable that the current survey process does not include a single option for defunding the WPS and reallocating these funds to life-sustaining community services that are currently being starved out of the city budget. I know I am not alone in this sentiment. The Winnipeg Police is set to spend $320 million in 2022, over one-quarter of the city’s budget. Yet there is no funding model option in the city’s survey that will reduce the police budget by any amount. According to a Statistics Canada survey released in 2020, Manitoba is “rock bottom among the provinces on the issue of trust in police.” The same survey found that an estimated one-third of Winnipeg residents supported reducing police funding. I’m concerned that the City is trying to silence community voices calling to defund the police and to shield the police from scrutiny, from accountability, and from real public input. I disagree with all the models provided in the survey because none reflect the demand for defunding the police. For this city process to have any credibility, there would need to be an option to reduce the police budget in Winnipeg. This whole process is rigged in favour of more police spending. City Council needs to acknowledge the well-documented community demands to reduce funding to the Winnipeg Police Service and reallocate its enormous budget to other services. Thank you. [Sign name]