+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 2-21S

Police Act Review

Date:
March 16, 2021
Expiry Date:
April 1, 2024
Active Status:
Active
Sponsors:
County of Lethbridge
District:
1 - Foothills-Little Bow
Year:
2021
Convention:
Spring
Category:
Community Services
Status:
Accepted
Vote Results:
Carried
Preamble:

WHEREAS the Government of Alberta approved a new police funding model which requires urban municipalities with populations less than 5,000 and all rural municipalities to pay a portion of provincial policing costs; and

WHEREAS under the new police funding model, affected municipalities will contribute 10% of policing costs in 2020, 15% in 2021, 20% in 2022, 30% in 2023 and 30% in 2024; and

WHEREAS provincial policing costs represent a significant portion of the affected municipalities’ annual operating budgets; and

WHEREAS for municipalities that have not borne provincial policing funding model costs in the past, these additional costs will be a significant budget line item in 2021 and beyond; and

WHEREAS like any municipal contracted service, municipalities require accurate and detailed information from the service provider to ensure that their taxpayer dollars are being used in the most cost-effective manner; and

WHEREAS the increased costs of police funding, combined with other challenges currently facing municipalities, could have serious implications across the province and potentially threaten the viability of some municipalities; and

WHEREAS in 2020, the Government of Alberta undertook a review of the Police Act that involved little direct consultation with municipalities; and

WHEREAS changes to the Police Act could have further financial and service level impacts on municipalities;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta request the Government of Alberta to undertake further and direct consultation with rural municipalities on the proposed Police Act changes and the future of policing in Alberta.  

Member Background:

Lethbridge County, like other rural municipalities across the province, is concerned with the Government of Alberta’s decision to require rural municipalities to contribute significantly to policing costs with no indication that service levels will improve or local input into policing will increase. At the December 17, 2020 Lethbridge County Council meeting, Council discussed the Government of Alberta’s review of the Police Act. Consequently, the following motion was adopted by Council:

That a letter be sent to the RMA indicating Lethbridge County recommends that an RMA resolution requesting greater consultation with rural municipalities on proposed Police Act changes be adopted and sent to the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, prior to any changes being made.

RMA Background:

1-20F: Police Funding Model Freeze

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) advocate to the Government of Alberta to freeze municipal contributions under the police funding model at no greater than 10% of the total policing costs under the Provincial Police Services Agreement (PPSA) until a corporate review of the PPSA and the overall organizational structure, efficiency and effectiveness of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) policing service has been completed and the review made available to all municipalities in Alberta; and

FURTHER BE IT RESOLVED that RMA advocate to the Government of Alberta that all monies collected from the police funding model remain in the Rural Municipalities of Alberta district from which they were collected.

Click here to view the full resolution.

2-19F: Government of Alberta’s Police Costing Test Model

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta urge the Government of Alberta to engage in further consultation with municipalities on the police costing test model to examine options to meet the Government of Alberta’s goal of reducing policing costs without negatively impacting policing service delivery or municipal financial viability.

Click here to view the full resolution.

Government Response:

In 2018, a review of the Police Act (Phase 1) was launched as an important step towards modernizing this legislation to reflect the realities of policing, and to ensure that police remain accountable to their communities and responsive to their needs. This phase created space for key stakeholders to discuss how the role of policing has changed and to highlight gaps in the current legislation. This phase included a survey that went to all municipal representatives and the survey link was shared in the RMA newsletter.

All stakeholders were invited to participate in round-table discussions, which took place in both Edmonton and Calgary between October 2018 and March 2019, on the following themes:

  • enhancing trust, legitimacy, and supports;
  • collaborative approaches;
  • roles and responsibilities;
  • policy and oversight;
  • diversion and the power of discretion;
  • officer safety; and
  • communication, analytics, and information exchange.

Municipal sector input was gathered through representatives from the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA), RMA, and the Alberta Summer Villages Association, who participated on behalf of their constituents. Other municipalities that received invitations were: Lacombe, Edmonton, Calgary, Taber, Medicine Hat, Lethbridge, and Camrose – this was due to these municipalities having stand-alone police services. Additional municipalities were invited to opt-in to the review process, which resulted in participation by representatives from Red Deer, Grande Prairie, Fort McMurray, Canmore, and Westlock. Representatives were typically from the police commissions, policing committees, or were elected officials. Attendance at these meetings ranged from 30 to 60 participants with in-person and teleconference participation.

Phase two of engagement launched in September 2020, and focused on asking stakeholders to identify potential solutions to known concerns. Between September 10, 2020 and November 30, 2020, the Public Security Division completed 13 engagement sessions with stakeholders representing municipalities (e.g., RMA and AUMA), law enforcement, the legal community, community-based organizations representing diverse communities, law enforcement oversight, professional organizations (e.g., College of Alberta Psychologists), police associations, and Indigenous communities and organizations. Online discussions were held for five subtopics:

  • governance;
  • public trust;
  • complaints;
  • Indigenous police relationships; and
  • First Nations Police Services.

Each topic had two rounds of meetings. The first round of discussions were aimed to identify the strengths and concerns with the current state, while the second meeting focused on exploring possible solutions. RMA was invited to attend conversations focused on governance, public trust, and complaints.

A public survey for this review was launched on December 3, 2020, and closed on January 4, 2021. This survey collected 14,357 responses. A stakeholder survey on the role of police opened during the week of December 8, 2020 and closed on January 4, 2021. This survey collected 1,554 responses and was sent to all municipal representatives. Both survey links were shared in AUMA and RMA newsletters.

Limited conversations were held until mid-April 2021, with stakeholders, to better understand diverse communities’ experiences with policing. It is acknowledged that much of the conversation and potential policy options may not be suitable to being legislated; however, the essence of the conversation could inform principles captured by the Police Act, regulations, policing standards, and policies and programs that could be informed by ideas gathered from these stakeholders.

With the government efforts to address racism and promote more inclusive and accepting communities across Alberta, the goal of this continued engagement is gaining a better understanding of:

  • the experiences diverse communities have with police;
  • how their daily lives are impacted by policing and interactions with police services;
  • how to improve areas where there is strain; and
  • what these groups want and do not want from police.

A two-hour engagement session focused on the diverse rural perspective was held April 9, 2021. In advance of this meeting, program staff met with representatives from RMA to determine an invite list that represented the organization. It is my understanding that representatives from RMA were invited to submit written feedback beyond what they shared during this recent meeting.

Development:

The Government of Alberta (GOA) response highlights Police Act engagement sessions that occurred with municipalities throughout 2021. While these sessions did provide opportunities for engagement, the GOA continues to explore changes to the Police Act that are contrary to RMA’s position such as replacing local police committees with regional governance bodies. Such an approach would limit local input on policing priorities. However, as engagement has continued, RMA assigns this resolution a status of Accepted and will continue to advocate based on the principle of local input.

Provincial Ministries:
Justice and Solicitor General
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