According to a report released at the end of April by the National Police Federation, the labour union that represents 20,000 RCMP members across Canada and the globe, the majority of Alberta’s residents do not want new provincial police. 

According to the Your Police – Your Future: Listening to Albertans report, Albertans want to see, “funding to prioritize improving the justice system, strengthening social services, and increasing police resources. Participants felt that these targeted investments would bring better and more immediate results to address crime within communities.” 

The KeepAlbertaRCMP Community Engagement Tour, which also had a stop in Airdrie last February as well as across the province saw over 1,000 participants and 38 in-person engagement sessions. The NPF conducted research between 2020 and 2022, which showed that only 9 per cent of those surveyed, supported the idea of replacing the RCMP with a provincial police force. A total of 5,160 respondents engaged in several surveys over the last two years. 

The report also noted that Alberta’s municipal associations, Alberta Municipalities (ABmunis) and Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA), both passed resolutions opposing the creation of a provincial police force. Both organizations represent over 300 municipalities across Alberta. 

“During engagement sessions, two main issues continued to be raised: associated costs and impacts to public safety,” the report stated. “Participants also shared their frustration over the lack of basic information surrounding the potential transition from the Government.” 

One of the lynchpins of such pushback to the province’s plan of creating a provincial police force is the lack of clarity when it comes to the cost. 

A study that was initiated by the province of Alberta and carried out by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, Canada underlined in its public report that many of the costs were estimated, or otherwise hypothetical.  

According to the PwC Canada report, "The annual operating cost for this recommended operating model is estimated at $735m which includes 4,189 full-time employees positioned in 113 detachments leveraging similar equipment and fleet to perform their operations." 

By the NPF's calculations, the 735-million-dollar price tag would mean 139 million dollars more yearly than the current model which costs $595 million dollars a year. The NPF argues that if the province were to move ahead with a provincial police force, they will be paying more for less. 

“Many felt that while the Transition Study was fulsome in some cost areas, there were many noted “unknown” costs or areas where more analysis would be needed to assess the full costs and impacts. This has left participants with more questions than answers,” the NPF report stated.  

When the NPF had made their stop in Airdrie, Jeff McGowan. Director, Prairie / North Region for the NPF said that policing doesn’t exist in a silo. 

If you could realistically put 100,000 police officers out in this area, it won't be as impactful as having the corresponding services, meaning crown prosecutors, judges, social services," he said. 

Those same sentiments were echoed in the April report, surmising that the majority of Albertans who had participated in the surveys and been to the community engagement sessions did not have an issue with the RCMP, but more so the justice system as a whole. 

“We heard how the RCMP can better serve communities including better support for mental health calls, continuing to address rural response times, addressing delays in RCMP transfers, and increasing administrative help to ensure RCMP officers can be out on the streets instead of behind a computer.” 

The PwC Canada report stated that by May 2023, the establishment of an Alberta provincial police force should start taking place and would last approximately a year. According to the roadmap in the report, May 2023 would see, “Formal termination notice is given to the RCMP starting the 24-month formal negotiation and transition period.”  

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