+ RMA Rural Municipalities
of Alberta

Resolution 4-22S

Continued Support for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in Alberta

Date:
March 15, 2022
Expiry Date:
April 1, 2025
Active Status:
Active
Sponsors:
Northern Sunrise County
District:
4 - Northern
Year:
2022
Convention:
Spring
Category:
Community Services
Status:
Intent Not Met
Vote Results:
Carried
Preamble:

WHEREAS the majority of rural municipalities support the continuation of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) as Alberta’s primary municipal police service provider; and

WHEREAS Alberta had its own provincial police service in the early twentieth century; and

WHEREAS Alberta’s previous provincial police service was replaced by RCMP contract policing due to economic hardships experienced in the province resulting in the provincial police service becoming unsustainable; and

WHEREAS RCMP detachments are established and well respected in communities across Alberta; and

WHEREAS municipalities should not face increased costs to support the shift to a provincial police service; and

WHEREAS the Government of Alberta has not released a detailed funding model to account for who will be covering the costs of transitioning to an Alberta Provincial Police Service (APPS) or the operation of the service; and

WHEREAS support for the Alberta RCMP has held strong in ongoing surveys over the past year despite the heavy politicization on the issue; and

WHEREAS creating a provincial police service remains very low priority for Albertans, with one recent public survey reporting 70% opposition to the replacement of the RCMP and 80% satisfaction with current RCMP policing; and

WHEREAS the APPS Transition Study, developed by PricewaterhouseCoopers on behalf of the Government of Alberta, does not include statistics, surveys conducted, or any evidence of engagement with municipalities, citizens, or specific communities; and

WHEREAS the APPS Transition Study cost over two million dollars, which is ultimately paid for by the Alberta taxpayers;

Operative Clause:

THEREFORE, BE IT RESOLVED that the Rural Municipalities of Alberta request that the Government of Alberta not create an Alberta Provincial Police Service.

Member Background:

The Government of Alberta has moved quickly on the Fair Deal Panel’s (FDP) recommendation of creating an Alberta Provincial Police Service (APPS). The Panel’s report was released in May of 2020 and later in the year, PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) was selected to conduct the APPS Transition Study. The Transition Study was slated to be released by April 2021 but was not released to the public until the end of October, six months later.

Dozens of municipalities have opposed the creation of an APPS, as evidenced by letters sent to the Minister of Justice and Solicitor General expressing their concerns over having to bear the cost of the APPS with no assurance of it being a more beneficial police service.  Rather than replacing the RCMP, rural Albertans are more concerned about the “revolving door” of crime and would like to see improvements made to the provincial justice system, social safety nets, and to have poverty and addictions issues addressed. The FDP conducted polls and surveys regarding its recommendations and found that creating an APPS was ranked second last in terms of priority among all issues they were considering.

The PwC transitional study shows that creating an APPS will cost Albertans more than $188.3 million per year in lost federal contributions with a transition cost of over $366 million while getting less fully trained officers than the RCMP.

RMA Background:

RMA has no active resolutions directly related to this issue.

Government Response:

Justice and Solicitor General

Thank you for your correspondence regarding Alberta’s review of provincial policing. Over the past few months, I have been meeting with municipal and Indigenous leaders as well as other stakeholders to discuss the prospect of transitioning to an Alberta provincial police. At this time, I am writing to provide greater clarity on a number of issues.

First of all, let me state unequivocally that this review is in no way a reflection of the men and women who serve in the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). Albertans are justifiably proud and grateful for the RCMP and their proud history of serving our province.

Alberta’s existing contract for providing province-wide policing lies with the federal government not with the RCMP. This is an important distinction, as our concerns are with the federal contract, which, over the years, has prevented successive governments from significantly improving policing at a local level. These concerns include:

  • Limited civilian oversight and governance structure. Since the RCMP is governed by federal legislation, regulations, and policy, Alberta can only go so far to improve governance in Alberta without the federal government’s willingness to listen and act accordingly.
  • Recruitment and detachment staffing remains a problem for Alberta, especially in rural areas. Decisions about recruiting, staffing, and transfers are all done at a national level. Alberta’s needs take a back seat, when weighed against the needs of other provinces.
  • Training is done out-of-province and is not Alberta-focused. Alberta is different from other parts of Canada, and the training our provincial police officers receive should reflect this difference.
  • The federal government uses a national forensic laboratory system. This system prioritizes processing only the most serious criminal forensic evidence and rarely processes evidence for offences like property crime. Alberta needs its own forensic laboratory system so all forensic evidence is processed.
  • The federal government unilaterally signed a multi-year collective agreement that resulted in dramatic increases to costs for municipalities. While Alberta’s government supports efforts to compensate RCMP officers fairly, the provincial government and municipalities who contract with the RCMP were not allowed to participate at the negotiating table. Alberta needs a model that puts Albertans in control of critical decisions about policing in the province.

Additionally, it is well known that the federal government is reconsidering its commitment to contract policing in the future. In 2021, the Canadian Parliament released a report which found that that the RCMP’s contract policing role makes it difficult for the RCMP to focus on front-line community policing while at the same time providing national police services. The federal government has also pointed out the escalating cost of RCMP contract policing, and the Prime Minister’s recent mandate letter to the minister responsible for the RCMP includes direction to conduct an assessment of RCMP contract policing in consultation with provinces, territories, municipalities, and Indigenous communities. Please see the following link for more information on the federal government’s view: https://www.publicsafetv.gc.ca/cnl/trnsprnc/brfngintrls/ trnstn-bndis/20191 120/013/index-en.aspx.

That is why there has been a national conversation taking place about the future of contract policing. The provinces of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and Saskatchewan have all announced plans to examine provincial policing models. In the spring of this year, a British Columbia (BC) committee of politicians from all parties, unanimously recommended that BC replace the RCMP with a new provincial police service. At the municipal level, Surrey BC is in the process of transitioning from the RCMP to their own municipal police and several municipalities in the Maritimes are also considering a change.

Our government believes that a provincial police, no longer fettered by bureaucratic management in Ottawa, could be more responsive to Albertans. Alberta Justice and Solicitor General contracted with PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) Canada to develop the Alberta Provincial Police Transition Study. The provincial policing model presented in this report addresses the long-standing challenges associated with contract policing and provides Alberta with options that would:

  • Increase the number of front-line police officers and civilian specialists serving our communities and enhance detachment staffing levels;
  • Incorporate dedicated mental health nurses and social workers into the police service to divert individuals, who are experiencing mental illness and addiction issues, away from the justice system;
  • Rebalance provincial police officer deployment towards rural communities and reduce the number of provincial police officers deployed in headquarters or administrative roles. An Alberta provincial police would provide a new ‘minimum viable’ detachment size of ten police officers. This would increase overall staffing levels by sixty-five per cent in forty-two detachments located in smaller rural communities.
  • Reduce transfers of officers in and out of communities, and increase police knowledge of local public safety issues;
  • Reduce federal/provincial jurisdictional barriers that limit the integration of police services across Alberta;
  • Utilize existing provincial government resources to make the provincial police more cost-effective;
  • Maintain and support our independent municipal police services by exploring new opportunities to work together to keep Albertans safe; and
  • Support the critical work undertaken by First Nations police services and continue to lobby the federal government to expand these services to other First Nations who desire their own policing services.

It is clear that Albertans greatly value the work of front-line RCMP members and civilian employees and the role that they have in Alberta’s communities. Should Alberta decide to adopt a provincial policing model, Alberta’s government would welcome as many RCMP members and civilian staff to transfer into a provincial police as is practicable. We would ensure that RCMP members who choose to transfer to an Alberta provincial police would not face negative financial consequences from their desire to continue serving Albertans. This means that we would actively lobby the federal government to support RCMP pay, benefits, and pension portability between the RCMP and any potential Alberta provincial police.

The ultimate goal, however, of a potential provincial police is to improve service levels and address crime. In this regard, the exploration of a potential Alberta provincial police would align with work already undertaken by this government to strengthen Alberta’s justice system. The Government of Alberta has:

  • Invested up to $20 million over four years to expand drug treatment courts. Drug treatment courts aim to reduce the number of crimes motivated by drug addiction;
  • Invested $207 million over five years for a new Red Deer Justice Centre, with thirteen other court facilities across Alberta having been upgraded over the last few years;
  • Hired 50 new Crown prosecutors and additional support staff to ensure excellence in prosecutions;
  • Created the Rural Alberta Provincial Integrated Defence (RAPID) Response to allow provincial peace officers to respond to a wider range of calls;
  • Allocated additional funding to the Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT) to combat organized crime, illegal guns, and gangs;
  • Committed to expand Indigenous policing by funding 15 new police officers for the Blood Tribe, Tsuut’ina Nation, and Lakeshore Regional police services;
  • Committed to provide a new Community Policing Grant to assist Indigenous and municipal communities in preparing a business case for their own stand-alone police service or a regional equivalent;
  • Committed to upholding firearms policies and governance measures that protect Albertans, and deter illegal gun crime rather than persecuting law-abiding citizens; and
  • Created an Alberta Parole Board to make parole decisions and effectively address repeat offenders and parolees responsible for crime in rural areas of our province.

Recently, Justice and Solicitor General completed an extensive engagement period from November 2021 to April 2022 to provide stakeholders with information on the concepts presented in PWC’s Alberta Provincial Police Transition Study, as well as to gather feedback on these ideas. As part of this engagement process, department staff conducted more than 60 in-person and virtual engagement sessions with participants invited from the 317 municipalities policed by the RCMP in Alberta, as well as First Nations, Metis communities, and public safety stakeholders. Information gathered during this process will be used to refine PwC’s work as well as inform decisions regarding the next steps.

However, I recognize that rural municipalities may wish to have additional discussions and as I spoke of at the Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) spring conference, I welcome opportunities to meeting with rural municipalities to discuss the ongoing Alberta provincial police transition study. If the RMA’s executive or members would like to schedule a meeting on this topic, please contact my office at ministrvofiustice@gov.ab.ca or 780-427-2339.

No decisions have been made on whether Alberta will transition to an Alberta provincial police, and Alberta’s government is continuing to listen to a wide variety of viewpoints on this topic. Thank you again, for taking the time to write. Perspectives such as yours are an important way for the provincial government to understand how we can ensure that all Albertans feel safe, secure, and protected in their communities, no matter where they live.

Development:

The Government of Alberta response highlights recent funding and staffing increases to address issues related to crime. Additionally, the response provides rationale as to why the Government of Alberta is considering an Alberta Provincial Police Service (APPS). While the response indicates no decisions have yet been made, the Government of Alberta is not stepping back from the APPS proposal. Therefore, this resolution is assigned a status of Intent Not Met, and RMA will continue to oppose the creation of an APPS. For more information on RMA’s position related to the APPS, visit the RMA provincial police hub.

Provincial Ministries:
Justice and Solicitor General
Back to Resolutions Database