The Town of Qualicum Beach has joined the call to urge the federal government to have municipalities actively involved in any future processes regarding contract policing.
Coun. Anne Skipsey presented a motion during the town’s regular meeting on April 12, that council support the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) in convincing the federal government to commit and ensure that local governments are meaningfully consulted, fully informed and at the table on issues related to policing costs, given the municipal role in keeping the community safe.
Council unanimously supported the motion and will convey their support to the FCM in writing to Alberni-Courtenay MP Gord Johns.
Last month, the federal government reflected in the 2023 budget that it will not absorb the retroactive costs associated with the latest RCMP collective bargaining agreement despite the request from municipalities led by the FCM. Communities across Canada, including the Town of Qualicum Beach, are expected to cover these costs and were offered details on a repayment period.
Skipsey’s motion indicated that the costs in some jurisdictions amount to millions of dollars and will cause significant hardship for communities and residents. They were negotiated without meaningful consultation or a seat at the table for the municipalities footing the bills.
Some of the communities across the country facing significant costs associated with the federal government’s decision include: City of Moncton, NB: $5.7 million, population 79,470; Town of Hinton, AB: $750,000, population 9,882; City of Portage la Prairie, MB: $800,000, population 13,270; City of Vernon, BC: $3.4 million, population 44,519.
Although the Town of Qualicum Beach will not be severely impacted, Skipsey said she is still concerned about the lack of consultations with municipalities and supports the FCM’s position that this situation should not occur again.
“Municipalities have been crystal clear,” said FCM president Taneen Rudyk in a press release. “Local governments were not at the table for these negotiations. And while cost estimates were provided to some municipalities, these turned out to be far below the final agreement’s increase over six years, with retroactive pay going back to 2017.”
“The federal government’s refusal to absorb these costs – which were essentially negotiated with municipal money but not with municipal input – is not acceptable. Municipal councils will be forced to make incredibly tough decisions, such as making cuts to essential services or passing the bill along to residents, at a time when Canadians’ concerns about local safety and the cost of living are already rising.”