EDMONTON – Alberta is looking to replace the RCMP with a new provincial police service similar to the OPP in Ontario.
Alberta’s government hired PwC Canada in October 2020 to study the feasibility of replacing the RCMP in Alberta with a provincial police service. This follows the recommendation of the Fair Deal Panel report that Alberta should actively consider the establishment of its own force.
PwC Canada’s report, released Oct. 29, explores the operational needs, processes and potential transition costs and puts forward a provincial model that would put more front-line personnel in communities across Alberta at a total cost equal to, or lower than, the total cost of the RCMP contract policing model used in Alberta.
“This independent report makes a compelling case for creating a police service that’s designed by Albertans, for Albertans. Alberta’s government is committed to the safety and security of all Albertans, no matter where they live. A much stronger model of community policing, with closer integration of social services and the involvement of Indigenous people in governance, holds real potential for improving policing in Alberta.” states Jason Kenney, Premier.
he policing model presented by PwC proposes innovative approaches to service delivery and governance that have the potential to better address the root causes of crime through built-in partnerships with mental health and addictions professionals. PwC also proposes establishing a provincial police commission and commissions at the local level to increase accountability and ensuring a governance role for Indigenous people. A key element of the report is an enhancement of community policing with an increased emphasis on local recruiting and retention.
Engagement with Albertans
Based on PwC’s research, the government will continue to study the feasibility of a provincial police service. As part of this, the Alberta government will conduct an extensive stakeholder engagement beginning in late November.
The upcoming engagement will include meetings with municipalities, First Nations and Métis communities, law enforcement organizations and public safety partners such as victims services organizations and rural crime watch groups. The sessions will be an opportunity to share the report, answer questions from stakeholders and gather their perspectives on the proposed policing model. These will build upon town halls and stakeholder meetings Minister Madu conducted during his rural crime tour this summer. There will also be a public survey in early 2022.
This move has critical overview. Brian Sauvé, President of the National Police Federation, says regarding the Government of Alberta’s announcement about the release of a $2 millionPricewaterhouseCoopers Transitional Study on the creation of an Alberta Provincial Police Service:
“We first take this opportunity to thank Minister of Justice and Solicitor General Kaycee Madu for finally releasing the long-awaited $2 million dollar PricewaterhouseCoopers Transitional Study, which was delivered to his government roughly half a year ago.
To our surprise, the report appears to recommend implementing a policing model that is currently in place under the existing RCMP model: stating it will cost Albertans nearly 30 percent more once established, plus additional transitions costs over several years.
There’s just no meat to this bone.
The NPF is calling for the Government of Alberta to immediately conduct a feasibility study comparing the two models, taking into account the full costs of policing in Alberta, so that Albertans can make informed, factual decisions when participating in potential further consultations with this government.
An April 2021 survey by Pollara Strategic Insights showed that 92% of Albertans want a detailed accounting of costs and service levels before any decisions are made. They deserve to know how this potential transition would impact them, how the province plans to fund the significant cost differences, and who will bear those costs.
Minister Madu simply refuses to acknowledge that moving to an Alberta police service means forfeiting over ~$170m in annual contributions from the federal government, which Alberta taxpayers will need to cover somehow, either in higher taxes or through spending cuts. Transition costs are estimated to be an additional ~$366m, also to be borne by Alberta taxpayers.
While Minister Madu indicated that his government will be embarking on a series of public consultations to discuss the report’s findings, we can share that the National Police Federation has already engaged with over 70 municipal leaders on this issue over the past year, the majority in rural and remote communities, and we heard their widespread concerns about the costs to taxpayers and impacts to public safety of a transition loud and clear.
Albertans deserve to know the full and real cost and community safety impacts of this idea, and we once again call on the Premier, Minister Madu, and the Government of Alberta to be transparent and provide all the facts Albertans need to be able to make an informed decision. “