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

North Island College receives $125,000 donation from accounting firm

The donation from Chan Nowosad Boates will be used to purchase technology as well to award bursaries for students

Mobile Health Unit takes to Campbell River streets

KDC Health-operated health bus offers holistic approach to health

Vancouver Island business ad unintentionally features OK gesture linked to white supremacy

Innocuous ‘OK’ gesture in cleaning franchise advertisement gets flak on social media for ‘supposedly’ promoting white supremacy

RCMP disarm man experiencing mental health crisis

The male pulled a knife on officers and then held it to his own throat expressing a desire to die

Mowi’s B.C. salmon farms achieve environmental certification from independent watchdog

Aquaculture Steward Council certification complies with 500 sustainability and social measures

B.C. sees 25 new COVID-19 cases, community exposure tracked

One death, outbreaks remain in two long-term care facilities

VIDEO: Vancouver Island cat missing 18 months reunited with family

Blue the cat found at Victoria museum 17 kilometres from home

Mirror business directory and map

If you’d like to be added to the list, shoot us an email

VIDEO: Alberta man rescues baby eagle believed to be drowning in East Kootenay lake

Brett Bacon was boating on a lake in Windermere when he spotted the baby eagle struggling in the water

Minivan driver’s speed a factor in fatal 2018 Malahat crash

Driver was travelling at 110 km/h in a construction zone

Comox Valley RCMP looking for missing woman

Ami Guthrie was last seen in Courtenay in early July

Conservationists raise concerns over state of care for grizzly cubs transferred to B.C. zoo

‘Let them be assessed now before their fate is sealed,’ urges B.C. conservationist Barb Murray

B.C.’s COVID-19 job recovery led by tourism, finance minister says

Okanagan a bright spot for in-province visitor economy

National Kitten Day aka the ‘purrfect’ day to foster a new friend

July 10 marks National Kitten Day, a special day to celebrate all things kittens

Most Read