by Colin Smith
The Town of Morinville could be on the hook for an extra $200,000 to $250,000 in policing costs following the signing of a collective agreement between the federal government and the RCMP union earlier this month.
The first collective agreement negotiated by the National Police Federation, includes retroactive pay to 2017, along with a 23.7 per cent salary increase over the next six years.
Municipalities are now concerned that they may be expected to cover the cost of the retroactive pay for RCMP members.
The issue came before council at its August 24 regular meeting following receipt of a copy of a letter to Premier Jason Kenney from Claresholm mayor Doug MacPherson.
In the letter, the town’s council notes that the matter had been brought to its attention by the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association (AUMA) and calls on the provincial government to ensure Alberta municipalities are not charged with funding the RCMP’s retroactive pay.
“It should be up to the provincial and federal governments to deal with any shortfalls, and not to overload municipalities with further monetary strain,” the letter states.
Chief administrative officer Stephane Labonne said that Staff Sergeant Chris Palfey, commander of the RCMP Morinville Detachment, told him the cost to the town would likely be between $200,000 and $250,000.
That doesn’t include other upcoming costs to municipalities including excess leave amounts, charges for officer body cameras and replacement of service handguns.
Labonne said numbers presented by the AUMA indicate some $70 million would be charged to Alberta communities that have municipal police service agreements and $55 million to $70 million charged to the province for rural policing.
“That’s just all for the retroactive pay component.”
He added that the AUMA has been lobbying the federal and provincial governments on the issue, along with the Canadian Federation of Municipalities.
The government of Alberta has been taking the same position as the AUMA that the Government of Canada, which negotiated the contract, should be responsible for paying the bill.
“This is a horrible, horrible situation that the government is putting us in,” said Councillor Nicole Boutestein. “We don’t have this money. No municipality has this money.”
Boutestein asked Labonne whether it was time for Morinville to send out its own letter similar to that produced by Claresholm.
“I think it’s best to just sit back and see what happens, “ Labonne said, adding that he believes there will be further developments following the municipal elections in October
Under the new agreement, which covers all RCMP members under the rank of inspector, the pay of a first-class constable rises from $94,292 to $106,576 by next April. A corporal who earns $94,292 will make $116,703. The RCMP last saw a pay raise in 2016.