The Association of Manitoba Municipalities holds district meetings every year to find out from members how things are going across the province.
This year's series of seven meetings wrapped up Friday with the last stop in Minto.
About 80 elected officials from across the southwest part of Manitoba attended the day long meeting.
AMM President Kam Blight says all the meetings had some similar topics that were raised by civic leaders. “Definitely some common themes and a lot of it comes down to funding. The increase in inflation has placed added financial pressures on municipalities. Our municipalities have been facing a seven year operating basket funding freeze and that’s creating a lot of challenges for municipalities.”
Blight says another issuing popping up is the Investing in Canada Infrastructure program. “A lot of municipalities had projects approved in 2019 and now those tender prices are quite low compared to today’s costs in actual figures. It’s as much as 30 to 40 per cent more in some cases and that’s a major concern.”
Civic leaders are also voicing concerns about health care and specifically attracting and retaining paramedics and first repsonders.
“We’ve been trying to raise that issue with government ministers and hopefully we can see some movement in that area as well” said Kam Blight.
A group of municipal leaders met in mid June with government ministers to present their case surrounding health care workers. “We met to lobby the province about our case for more training for E-M-T’s across the province and to look at the whole para medicine situation to see if they could implement some new ideas to make it more efficient and better for people in rural Manitoba” said RM of Grassland Reeve Ruth Mealy.
She adds paramedics are understaffed and some are reaching retirement age and the municipal group is lobbying the province to increase training in rural Manitoba.
Kam Blight says new regulations will make it even more challenging to get people out to rural areas.
“There’s better salaries in the City of Winnipeg there’s less on call time and to be a volunteer first responder you training time is being tripled and costs increased dramatically and that impacts the training and retention of these individuals for these communities. We’re also seeing staffing shortages take place and waiting times increasing dramatically” said Kam Blight.
“The key to solving these problems is dialogue and getting both sides to sit down and talk about the issues. There certainly isn’t a one size fits all because it’s different in rural areas when compared to the city. They need to sit down with these municipalities and see how they’re being impacted.