Mayor Walter Jakeway says he’s still in the dark over expected RCMP pay raises.
Jakeway said he was aware the RCMP contract was up for negotiation with the federal government, but hasn’t received any new information since.
The B.C. government signed a new 20-year RCMP contract on March 21, which put an end to the province’s threat to terminate the Mounties and form a provincial police force, similar to Ontario.
However, municipalities must ratify the new agreement or give two year’s notice of withdrawal from the RCMP and either form its own police force or partner with another community’s municipal force.
Several cities have signed on already but Campbell River isn’t one of them.
“I wouldn’t sign it until I find out how it affects us,” Jakeway said. “We knew something was coming but we didn’t know if a raise was coming or not. Me personally, I can be ready for it.
“I don’t think we’re in a position to form our own police force.”
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said cities were advised months ago that raises of 1.5 per cent were possible this year but neither the province nor cities were formally notified of the details of the compensation package.
Jakeway said he would support a pay raise.
“I think they deserve a pay raise,” Jakeway said. “They’re way overdue. I think it’s been about six years – it’s pathetic. I don’t have a problem paying them more, they deserve it. We need the RCMP. It’s like having a doctor doing surgery. We want him to be fully content with his pay.”
Coun. Larry Samson, a former fire chief, said he believes the RCMP could be awarded a lofty pay increase.
“The RCMP are currently in the courts right now over the wage freeze,” Samson said. “It could be a significant wage increase for them.”
And he said with Campbell River having 43 members, the RCMP budget is the largest in the city.
“It quickly adds up,” he said, but added “the RCMP provide an excellent service.
“Public safety is number one.”
Municipalities still could get a break.
B.C. Justice Minister Shirley Bond said the federal government has assured her that RCMP administrative savings of $195 million will partly be allocated to cities and could offset the pay raises, and possibly even lower their costs.
Jakeway said the city will easily be able to absorb the RCMP budget and expects the issue to come before council in the next couple of weeks.
“It’ll be fun to watch,” he said.
– With files from Black Press