RCMP have won the right to unionize and that could bring a more equitable wage for officers. (file photo)

Unionized RCMP spells increased costs for municipalities

Sooke will also see higher policing costs as population tops 15,000

The RCMP won the right for their officers to unionize last year and now for the first time in the force’s history, the Mounties have a bargaining agent: the National Police Federation.

It’s a move that will have a profound effect on the relationship between the government and the organization and has the potential to alter how police services are offered in local communities.

One of the major issues in play is the salaries paid to RCMP officers.

In 2009, the federal government enacted a law to restrict growth in mounting salaries and other employment-related costs for government workers.

Mounties’ salaries steadily lost ground as a result, and RCMP officers are now among the lowest paid law enforcement employees in the country.

A 2016 survey of base salaries for 80 Canadian police forces had the RCMP ranked in 72nd place.

That situation improved marginally after some increases were granted in April 2017, but the RCMP salaries still stayed comparatively low.

And while municipalities like Sooke benefitted from the comparatively low salaries paid to RCMP officers, they also enjoyed transfer payments from the federal governments when they used the RCMP.

RELATED: Another challenging year

Municipalities with populations from 5,000 to 14,999 pay 70 percent of the cost of policing with the federal government paying the remaining 30 percent.

But those municipalities that rise above populations of 15,000 must pay 90 percent of the cost.

That fact may have a major impact on Sooke as the district’s population rapidly approaches the 15,000 benchmark.

“We have been watching the situation and we’ve built in a contingency into our year to year budgets to address increased costs when they arrive,” said Mayor Maja Tait. “We’ll also have to absorb wage increases and other costs as they arise.”

She said as far as the potential for increased salaries goes, it could be a good thing for the community.

“Salaries are a part of providing a more equitable, safe working environment. Municipalities like ours have seen a lot of turnover in their RCMP force as officers leave to work in (higher paying) municipal forces. That is obviously not a good situation as we lose the relationships and community memory of those officers when they leave,” Tait said.

ALSO READ: Day in the life

Stan Bartlett of the Grumpy Taxpayers of Greater Victoria anticipates higher salaries may lead some municipalities to explore other policing methods.

“It (unionization) is a game-changer and may make regional policing a more attractive option,” Bartlett said.

That option, he said, becomes more probable as the union may push for more officers in communities to bring them into line with the population per police officer ratios that tend to be significantly lower in RCMP policed communities.

“If more officers result from all this, I don’t see that as a bad thing,” Tait said. “As we grow, it can only lead to a safer community.”

And while Bartlett contends the balkanized hodge-podge of policing in Greater Victoria may lead some to consider a regional police force, the concept is a long way from becoming a reality.

“This government continues to be supportive of integration and regionalization where appropriate. However, any change to policing and law enforcement in the Capital Region is a decision for the municipalities involved and their elected officials,” said Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General Mike Farnworth

RELATED: Regional force unlikely

Only five Greater Victoria municipalities – Central Saanich, Oak Bay, Saanich and Victoria/Esquimalt – have a municipal force and, to date, only Victoria has expressed support for the concept of a regional force.

For now, Tait is not plunging into the regional force speculation, choosing instead to focus on her own community.

“We look forward to welcoming our new staff sergeant to Sooke. We’ll be working with the RCMP to ensure that our community remains a safe place. I think that’s what people are really concerned about.”



mailto:tim.collins@sookenewsmirror.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Some 5,000 residents on the Saanich Peninsula have signed up for alert system

Sidney hosts Peninsula Emergency Preparedness Exhibition Friday

Central Saanich Police issue recommendations to homeowners after break-in

Incident happened over weekend in Tanner Ridge area

B.C. population on pace to fall behind Alberta

Provincial population could reach almost seven million in 2043, but Alberta is growing faster

Greater Victoria could see a months worth of rain within a week this fall

Weather Network predicts wet, warm fall season for B.C.

Saanich brings Uptown-Douglas Corridor draft plan to the public

Feedback from residents will help finalize the plan

‘It’s almost surreal’: B.C. fire chief, sidekick Sammy recap rescue mission in Bahamas

Chief Larry Watkinson and Sam the disaster dog spent 8 days assisting a search and rescue team

Crime Stoppers most wanted for Greater Victoria for the week of September 17

Greater Victoria Crime Stoppers is seeking the public’s help in locating the… Continue reading

‘Time to take action:’ Children advocates call for national youth suicide strategy

Council wants Ottawa to make reporting of suicides and attempted suicides mandatory for data collection

Canadian inflation decelerates to 1.9% as gas prices weaken

August was the sixth straight month that price growth was 1.9 per cent or higher

Man who crushed Nanaimo RCMP cars with stolen truck gets more jail time

Majore Jackson, 34, sentenced to two more years in jail in provincial court in Nanaimo

B.C. dog breeder banned again after 46 dogs seized

The SPCA seized the animals from Terry Baker, 66, in February 2018

Surrey mom allegedly paid $400,000 for son in U.S. college bribery scam

Xiaoning Sui, 48, was arrested in Spain on Monday night

Three dogs found shot dead in Prince George ditch

The three adult dogs appeared to be well cared for before being found with gunshot wounds, BC SPCA says

B.C. party bus company to be monitored after 40 intoxicated teens found onboard

Police received tip teens and young adults were drinking on party buses and limousines in Surrey

Most Read