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RCMP agreement leaves communities pinching pennies

Municipalities across the country could soon face increased taxes or loss of services to cover retroactive costs to the RCMP. 

A collective agreement between the RCMP and the National Police Board took effect over a year ago which has led to costs being imposed on Canadian cities and towns without consultation, according to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities. 

“As local governments, we weren’t consulted prior to or during the collective bargaining process,” says president Taneen Rudyk. “Some communities could face a hike in tax rates to pay for retroactive RCMP services.

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“This is unmanageable and we are expecting help from the federal government because we can’t manage these increases,” she adds.

Regions across the country could face a bill that collectively would be quite substantial, she says

“It is estimated, collectively, that Alberta municipalities will have to pay another $80 million just in retroactive fees,” says Rudyk.

Some areas in Canada could face increased taxes of up to five per cent just to cover those costs, while others would have to increase their operating budget just to make ends meet, she says.

“Prince George will have to increase their taxes by 2.5 and 3.5 percent just to cover the retroactive costs, even though they have put money away for this cost,” says Rudyk. “Kamloops will see a 23 per cent increase in their operating costs.”

FCM has concerns about the collective agreement, and the timing the federal government has given municipalities

“The timing to pay the bill is off cycle. This bill was delivered after most municipalities, after most governments, had made their budget decisions. We receive a bill, we have to figure out how we are going to pay it and it is simple,” says Rudyk. “In order to pay this we need help from the federal government.”

“What is concerning is how much consultation was done by the Treasury board, in Ottawa to talk with the small communities to prepare them,” says Kootenay-Columbia MP Rob Morrison.

“How do we tackle this with communities who just don’t have the money?” he asks. “The provinces were negotiating with the Treasury board, who authorized the pay raise/retroactive pay. They knew a year ago what the cost to communities was going to be and they did not let municipalities know what it was going to be until after.”

Currently, cities and towns with populations over 5,000 have to cover 70 per cent of policing costs while the federal government covers the other 30 per cent. But those same municipalities  could pay up to 90 per cent of the extra costs, leaving the federal government picking up only 10 per cent, Morrison says 

“Everyone is concerned with the increase, and some have been able to save but it is not enough,” he says.

Contract policing by the RCMP covers 75 per cent of Canada’s geography.

The retroactive pay to the RCMP dates back to 2017.

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