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Policy Fast Five (December)

November 29, 2019


From the Winnipeg Chamber’s Policy department, here are five things you should know about this month:
  1. The city has introduced a new budget process for this year that is causing some concern among citizens. In previous years, initial budget presentations from city departments took place behind closed doors with the Mayor and Executive Policy Committee (EPC). This year, as part of planning for its first-ever four-year budget, EPC decided to make these presentations public. While the proposed budget cuts have generated a lot of headlines, the vast majority of these cuts will likely not be included in the draft budget when it is tabled in early 2020.

  2. The city is mulling the possibility of a $15 minimum wage for all employees. The Chamber has raised a few concerns about this proposal, including the potential ripple effect it could have on the city’s entire wage structure, the questionable math behind the $15 rate, and the unusual step of modifying wages outside the collective bargaining process.


  3. On November 22nd the provincial government introduced legislation that would eliminate restrictions on shopping hours on Sundays and holidays. Under the proposed legislation, municipalities would have the authority to pass by-laws, should they prefer to keep some restrictions in place. Current restrictions on Remembrance Day would remain in place. The Chamber has advocated on this issue for many years, and in a 2016 survey co-sponsored by the Chamber and the Retail Council of Canada, 2/3rds of Manitobans said they support allowing retailers to set their own hours.


  4. The province has reintroduced legislation that will eliminate the mandatory use of project labour agreements on major construction projects. The Public Sector Construction Projects (Tendering) Act aims to level the playing field for all bidders and increase the number of competitive bids on public projects by removing requirements for non-union workers to pay union dues and be governed by union rules.


  5. A group of Exchange District business owners have asked the city to hit the brakes on any further changes to the streetscape until the city has worked with them to develop a long-term plan for the area. They also want the city to till back street parking rates to encourage more visitors. Some Exchange District businesses have reported revenue drops of 20% to 30% over the past couple of years as they’ve dealt with construction, relocated parking spots, and up to 250% rate increases for some street parking spots.