The RCMP logo is seen outside Royal Canadian Mounted Police “E” Division Headquarters, in Surrey, B.C., on Friday April 13, 2018. The RCMP’s costly contract policing obligations across Canada are draining resources from the force’s federal duties in areas such as organized crime and national security, an internal government memo warns. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

RCMP facing ‘systemic sustainability challenges’ due to provincial policing role

Provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services

The RCMP’s costly contract policing obligations across Canada are draining resources from the force’s federal duties in areas such as organized crime and national security, an internal government memo warns.

The demand for contract officers in the provinces and territories where they provide regular local policing services outstrips the RCMP’s capacity to recruit and train them, causing shortages that have led to officer health and wellness concerns, says the Public Safety Canada document.

In turn, there is “growing dissatisfaction” in contract jurisdictions about costs and officer vacancies, and the resulting effect on community safety, the starkly worded memo says.

“Public Safety Canada and the RCMP have confirmed there are systemic sustainability challenges impacting the whole of the RCMP.”

ALSO READ: RCMP to draft national policy for emergency alerts after Nova Scotia shootings

The coming unionization of rank-and-file Mounties will only intensify these pressures, the memo says.

The heavily censored memo, newly released under the Access to Information Act, was included in a collection of briefing materials prepared for the incoming cabinet following the fall election.

Over 60 per cent of RCMP’s multibillion-dollar budget and over 70 per cent of the force’s officers are assigned to contract policing in 153 municipalities, the three territories, and all provinces but Ontario and Quebec, the memo notes.

This makes the RCMP the police of jurisdiction for over one-fifth of Canada’s population in a geographic area accounting for three-quarters of the country.

Under 20-year agreements signed in 2012, provinces, territories and municipalities pay anywhere from 70 to 90 per cent of the cost of the RCMP’s services.

The federal share is approaching $750 million annually, up from $618 million in 2012-13.

Policing is part of the provincial responsibility for the administration of justice and the federal government has been aiming since the 1960s to “decrease its contract policing financial liability,” the memo says.

At the same time, the national force’s federal policing responsibilities include serious and organized crime, financial crime, terrorism, espionage, cybercrime, protective security for officials, criminal intelligence and other areas.

“Federal policing responsibilities have been and are being eroded to meet contract demands,” the memo says.

Since 2010, the number of contract RCMP officers increased 17 per cent while federal officers decreased 30 per cent.

Meantime, Surrey, B.C. — the largest RCMP contract municipality, in suburban Vancouver— is pursuing creation of its own police force and, the memo says, “others are also considering alternatives.”

READ MORE: Staff recommend $500K-IT upgrades for better security for Surrey Police Department

The challenges come as the national police force tries to modernize, including unionization of frontline officers, following a series of revelations about internal bullying and harassment.

The National Police Federation is the certified bargaining agent for more than 20,000 RCMP members and reservists, and officer salaries are expected to increase under a negotiated agreement.

A second Public Safety memo, on RCMP governance and transformation, says a recent review of the force’s budget looked at gaps in programs and needed technical improvements.

“Some of the pressures identified have been addressed, while others remain,” it says.

“The pending unionization of officers — which will magnify fiscal and human-resource pressures — heightens the need to modernize the RCMP.”

Public Safety is working with the RCMP and the Treasury Board Secretariat to develop a bargaining strategy that goes beyond human-resource issues to consider bringing the force into the future, controlling costs and the overall impact on contract jurisdictions, the memo says.

The RCMP says a $508-million injection in the last federal budget has helped stabilize the force’s funding over the medium term. Obtaining additional monies will mean showing that existing resources are being used effectively, the force adds.

However, the RCMP referred questions about the contract policing challenges to Public Safety.

Mary-Liz Power, a spokeswoman for Public Safety Minister Bill Blair, declined to provide details of behind-the-scenes discussions.

The government is working with the RCMP and provincial and territorial partners “to address issues of mutual interest” such as frontline policing priorities and modernization, she said.

Jim Bronskill , The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

RCMP

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Feds announce $8.3M to deal with ‘ghost’ fishing gear in B.C. waters

Three projects on the North Coast awarded funding

VIA Rail lays off 1,000 unionized workers across the country

Northern B.C. route Jasper to Prince George to Prince Rupert is not affected by VIA Rail layoffs

Hagensborg Water District purchases new fire truck; prepares for conversion to CCRD

Approximately $1.3 million of the district’s infrastructure grant has been transferred to the CCRD.

Nuxalk Nation receives over $4 million in funding for Big House

The funding is joint federal, provincial and municipal and will support 24 infrastructure projects

B.C. identifies 20 new COVID-19 cases, travellers specified in count

Pandemic total 3,028 cases, 51 people from outside Canada

Canadian policing organization calls for decriminalization of simple illicit drug possession

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police want policing focus of opioid crisis to be replaced with a health one

Large rogue floating ‘island’ corralled by Lac la Hache residents

At least 60 feet wide, this large mass of plants is free-floating on the lake

B.C. ports part of data integration project to protect marine ecosystems

The $1.2 M federally funded program will draw crucial baseline data from Canada’s three coastlines

Filing deadline in RCMP sexual-harassment class-action extended due to COVID-19

Plaintiffs now have until January 2021 to submit claims for up to $222,000

Jamie Bacon pleads guilty to charge in Surrey Six case

The plea brings an end to a complex legal case that has spanned more than a decade

Hefty undeclared driver charges piling up, ICBC warns customers

Average extra penalty $2,971 after an at-fault accident

Survey, hotline launched amid probe into racist blood-alcohol guessing game at B.C. hospital

Mary Ellen Turpel-Lafond has been appointed to lead an investigation by Health Minister Adrian Dix

B.C. appeals judge’s decision to leave three clubhouses in Hells Angels hands

The province has filed two notices of appeal related to the B.C. Supreme Court decision

Most Read