Fougere, Masters go back-and-forth over city efficiency
Michael Fougere and Sandra Masters are facing off in Regina's 2020 mayoral race. (Marc Smith/CTV News)
REGINA -- With less than three weeks until Regina’s Municipal Election, the mayoral race heated up on Thursday as incumbent Michael Fougere went on the offensive against one of his challengers.
Fougere criticized Sandra Masters’ campaign promise to conduct an efficiency review of the City of Regina’s operations within the first six months.
Masters pledges to find 15 per cent in savings from increased operation efficiencies, but Fougere contests this would lead to $70 million in cuts to the City’s operations budget.
"I’ve done this job for a while, I’ve looked at many budgets and I can tell you a $70 million hole in our operations will absolutely devastate our city and halt any momentum we have for economic recovery," Fougere said.
Masters said Fougere is misrepresenting what her plan is.
"I don’t know where the $70 million came from because efficiency is about time, it’s about doing more with the same amount of money," she said.
"The 15 per cent is about operational efficiencies, not about cuts, this is about being as resourceful as possible in a critical time when the city needs to be prudent and strategic during a pandemic. It’s definitely not about job cuts or service cuts.”
"The City has limited resources, so it’s about being strategic, the review will help taxpayers feel better about their investment through their tax dollars."
According to Fougere, the City has done efficiency reviews before and found savings, but he believes the only way to find the 15 per cent savings Masters is promising is through cuts.
"We already have uncertainty in our community because of COVID-19, this is the last possible time we should be looking at cuts that deep to services that mean so much to so many people," Fougere said.
Fougere stated the 15 per cent would mean shutting down parks, pools, rinks and recreational facilities in the city, or cuts to local road work and snow removal.
"The impact of cutting 15 per cent of the City’s operations budget is $70 million and the impact is going to be devastating," he said.
"We already have uncertainty in our community because of COVID-19, this is the last possible time we should be looking at cuts that deep to services that mean so much to so many people."
Masters criticized Fougere’s attempt to "scare" voters about staff cuts.
"Clearly he is concerned about his own job, not anyone else’s," she said.
"I don’t know where the $70 million came from because efficiency is about time, it’s about doing more with the same amount of money. It’s about process, procedures, it can be as simple as providing the proper software to the employees so that frees up their time from manual entries."
Darren Bradley, Jim Elliott, Jerry Flegel, Tony Fiacco, Mitchell Howse, Bob Pearce and George R. Woolridge round out a packed mayoral race. Regina votes on Nov. 9.