Replacing the RCMP with a provincial police force could cost Albertans hundreds of millions of dollars more each year and result in a four percent increase in the number of police officers on the streets, according to a report commissioned by the province.
The PricewaterhouseCoopers report, which was presented to the government last April and published on Friday, does not give an exact figure on how much more Albertans would pay for their own police force if they were to lose the $ 170 million that the federal government is contributing. annually for police work by the RCMP.
Justice Minister Kaycee Madu said a provincial police force would be more efficient and cost-effective by relying on Alberta’s government support services.
“And while the challenges are not insignificant, we believe a built-in Alberta provincial police service is worth serious consideration,” Madu said at a news conference.
The report’s assumptions are based on the province no longer receiving federal funding for police, according to the Justice Department.
Adopting a provincial police force would take up to six years – four years of planning and preparation and up to two years of transition to an Alberta Provincial Police Service (APPS) in and RCMP out.
PwC estimates the cost of that transition to be between $ 366 million and $ 371 million.
This suggests that officers’ salaries are in line with municipal police officers in Alberta, not the rising RCMP salaries.
Madu said the report contains innovative ideas that will help address some of Albertans’ rural concerns about RCMP, help address some of the root causes of crime and embed nurses and mental health professionals in the force.
He also said an APP would be more inclusive of and responsive to indigenous communities.
Madu said no final decision will be made until he and his department conduct consultations across Alberta with indigenous peoples, rural areas, crime watchdogs, victims’ services and others.
Critics point to gaps in the report, political motives
The PwC report recommends that a provincial police service be overseen by a provincial police commission, which will have at least two government representatives on the board along with people from rural, urban and indigenous communities.
The authors say it should also have an independent watchdog, like the existing Alberta Serious Incident Response Team (ASIRT).
The report says Alberta should consider two models, the more expensive of which is more dependent on police with more extensive training. It proposes to combine Alberta’s sheriff’s service with the provincial police at a total estimated cost of between $ 734 million and $ 758 million a year.
NDP legal critic Irfan Sabir said he was suspicious of the government’s motives for replacing the RCMP. Mounties is still investigating allegations of voting irregularities and fraud in the United Conservative Party’s 2017 leadership race.
“It seems that the UCP is moving forward with this based on their own political interests, not what is in everyone Albertan’s best interest,” Sabir said.
If the NDP were elected, they would not pursue this idea, he said.
Some organizations raised concerns about the potential costs to the Albertans of forfeiting federal police crowns and funding a transition.
“Albertans deserve to know the full and real costs and societal implications of this idea,” National Police Federation President Brian Sauvé said in a statement.
The government commissioned the study after its Fair Deal panel proposed in 2019 that a provincial-led police force could help the province gain more autonomy.
The Justice Department said the PwC investigation cost nearly $ 1.4 million.
In a video statement posted to YouTube on Friday, RCMP Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki said officers were “softly proud” of serving Alberta and will continue to do so until a decision is made.