SIOUX LOOKOUT – Minister Michael Kerzner has responded to the NNW Fair Cost Policing Coalition with additional discounts to annual policing costs after several meetings on the OPP police cost crisis facing their communities. The municipalities had requested significant financial relief, but the new discounts are much lower than expected. Despite this, coalition leaders remain hopeful that a pending review of the Community Safety and Policing Act (CSPA) will result in more significant financial relief in the future.
The new discounts will provide Kenora with an additional 10% discount, now 15%; and for Sioux Lookout, an additional 5% discount, now 40%. Pickle Lake’s current discount of 95% remains in place, at least until the CSPA process is complete. The coalition members are the highest cost jurisdictions in Ontario according to 2022 data. However, over 30 municipalities across the north and other parts of the province also have high police costs compared to the provincial median of about $320 per property.
Doug Lawrance, Mayor of Sioux Lookout said, “For many years, we have been trying to get the Solicitor General’s office to take the problem of policing costs in our municipalities more seriously. By working together as a coalition rather than individual municipalities, we have finally been able to get some traction on the issue.”
Andrew Poirier, Mayor of Kenora, added, “The discounts are a step in the right direction, but much more is needed. We do, however, appreciate the time and energy Minister Kerzner has put into addressing our concerns.”
Coalition leaders are concerned that their policing costs are unsustainable. Their communities serve a population much larger than their municipal population as they are regional centres for healthcare, pharmacy, education, commerce, legal, and transportation services for tens of thousands of people across the region. James Dalzell, Mayor of Pickle Lake, said, “We know that we are not alone when it comes to concerns regarding the provincial cost formula for policing, which continues to squeeze many northern communities and others across the province. One outcome of the CSPA review process must be a new funding model. The current model is not sustainable for many communities.” At this time, it is unclear when the CSPA process will begin.