The Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM) has taken the initiative to kick-start its pre-election campaign for the 2023 provincial election, rallying under the slogan "Let's Grow Manitoba Together."
The campaign focuses on four key priorities: fair and predictable municipal funding, investment in core infrastructure, investing in people, and public safety, with the aim of shaping the future of Manitoba.
AMM President Kam Blight, alongside prominent mayors and municipal leaders, recently unveiled the organization's policy priorities for Manitoba's 137 municipalities. Blight emphasized the significance of these priorities and called upon all political parties in the province to integrate them into their respective election platforms. He stated, "Municipalities are an essential partner to the provincial government. Let's grow Manitoba together."
One of the primary pillars identified by the AMM is fair and predictable municipal funding. To achieve this, the AMM proposes collaborating with municipalities to establish a simplified funding model with an annual escalator, ensuring stability and predictability for future planning. Blight underscored the importance of predictable funding, acknowledging the Province's recent lift of the operating funding freeze, but urging the inclusion of an annual escalator to enable effective long-term planning.
In addition to predictable funding, the AMM suggests a rebate of the Provincial Sales Tax (PST) paid by municipalities, similar to the federal Goods and Services Tax (GST) rebate. This measure aims to alleviate the financial burden on municipalities and provide them with greater financial flexibility to meet the needs of their communities.
Recognizing the critical role of core infrastructure, the AMM will advocate for increased funding from the Manitoba Water Services Board specifically dedicated to water and wastewater infrastructure. Moreover, the organization emphasizes the importance of committing to a permanent federal and provincial infrastructure fund. Investing in core infrastructure is crucial for the sustainable development and maintenance of essential projects throughout the province.
The AMM also seeks coordination between economic development offices and agencies to enhance efficiency, synergy, and responsiveness to municipal economic development needs. By streamlining processes and fostering collaboration, the AMM aims to maximize the potential for economic growth within Manitoba's municipalities.
The third pillar of the AMM's priorities focuses on investing in people. To address the shortage of healthcare professionals and paramedics throughout Manitoba, the AMM proposes accelerating a comprehensive provincial strategy for recruitment. Accessible healthcare services, including doctors, nurses, and paramedics, are vital in all communities. Local training opportunities would help facilitate the availability of these professionals, ensuring that communities have the necessary care close to home.
Implementing recommendations from the Immigration Advisory Committee to increase regional settlement incentives for foreign-trained doctors and professionals would alleviate some of the challenges faced by communities. The AMM also advocates for training opportunities for licensed professionals closer to their respective communities. This strategy enables individuals to contribute to their communities' well-being and development.
The final pillar put forth by the AMM is public safety.
The organization urges the federal government to reform bail and conditional release policies, aiming for a more robust justice system. Additionally, the AMM emphasizes the need to refuse the downloading of policing reform costs, emphasizing the importance of shared responsibility. The rising rates of rural crime, violent crime, and drug crime demand immediate attention.
Mayor Carla Devlin of the RM of East St. Paul stressed the urgency, stating, "We need bail reform for violent offenders, and we need enhanced police resources to keep our communities safe."
To address these challenges effectively, the AMM emphasizes the importance of predictable police resourcing and the flexibility to transfer certain enforcement and social service functions from police to separate provincially-funded authorities. Moreover, increased police funding is necessary to combat crime and drug trafficking. The AMM also seeks to expand municipal Community Safety and Well-Being plans, ensuring secure and thriving communities for all residents.
The Association of Manitoba Municipalities has embarked on its pre-election campaign, presenting a comprehensive set of policy priorities under the slogan "Let's Grow Manitoba Together."
The AMM calls upon all political parties in Manitoba to embrace these priorities and integrate them into their election platforms.