City forecasts steep budget deficits from COVID-related impacts

File image taken at Winnipeg City Hall.

Winnipeg’s finances continue to be hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The City of Winnipeg’s latest financial report forecasts a projected budget deficit of $16.6 million and another $10.6 million shortfall for Winnipeg Transit.

The report notes more than $84 million in COVID-related financial impacts to the city, which is over $23 million more than what was anticipated for 2021.

“Despite budgeting for significant financial impacts due to COVID-19 this year, the city will need to draw on the financial stabilization reserve fund to end 2021 in a balanced position,” said Coun. Scott Gillingham (St. James), chairperson of the standing policy committee on finance.

“The city remains focused on prudent fiscal management with the aim of achieving financial recovery. There will be more challenges on the horizon as the financial pressures on the city caused by the pandemic will continue through next year, resulting in difficult decisions needed in the 2022 budget process.”

The city said its economic outlook for fall 2021 uses new economic data to further analyze the impacts of the pandemic on businesses, employment, housing and other areas.

The latest outlook also included updated forecast scenarios that propose potential outcomes for the pandemic through 2022.

The report will be presented to the finance committee on Oct. 15.