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Staff Provides Long Term Financial Overview

By Adam Riley Jan 11, 2023 | 1:51 AM

File Photo

All 13 members of City Council were given a long term financial overview of the 2023 budget in the first of several related budget meetings set to take place over the next few weeks.

City Manager Norm Gale along with other senior staff fielded questions from council on many aspects of the budget one of which came from At – Large Councillor Rajni Agarwal regarding increases in Workplace Safety Insurance Board claims.

“The safety and security of our staff at all levels is very important, but we’re increasing by 19.6%. That’s a substantial amount of change over the previous year.”

Gale says some of that comes not as a result of the city not looking after its employees but certain fields being more prone to incidents that cause injury.

“The reasons for that are varied and multiple, emergency services are a big part of that and healthcare at Pioneer Ridge. We’re seeing increased violence being offended on by people who work for the city. We have increased awareness and attention to mental health issues and addictions issues.”

On Mental health and addictions Gale adds those issues weren’t as apparent five years ago and those issues are trending upwards across the western world and not just in Thunder Bay.

Another angle of discussion was regarding costs associated with public safety, which as At-Large Councillor Shelby Ch’ng remarked, continues to grow.

She noted in 2014 public safety made up 33 percent of the budget, this year it makes up 37 percent of the budget.

“I want to know what we can expect going forward because this looks like an all consuming piece,” said Ch’ng. “It feels like we’re in this boa constrictor and its just getting tighter and tighter with the pressures of public safety pushing down on us.”

Courtesy: City of Thunder Bay
A breakdown of how $1000 in municipal tax levy would be spend on various services.

According to staff, adding in federal and provincial funding, public safety takes up 45 percent of the tax levy.

Those costs has Andrew Foulds worried for the future of the city.

“What I am really concerned about is cities become emergency services, roads and insurance and nothing else.” said the five-term Current River Councillor, “and that in my view is scary, because those aren’t great places to live.”

An executive summary of the 2023 budget can be found here.

Council will meet again on Thursday where members of the public will be able to have their say during a pre-budget deputation meeting starting at 6:30 p.m.


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