Albertans are served by a law enforcement system that is made up of a number of organizations and various types of personnel.
Under provincial legislation, urban municipalities with populations over 5,000 must make arrangements to provide policing services in their communities. Urban municipalities with populations of 5,000 or less, and all rural municipalities regardless of population, receive policing services from the RCMP under the provincial policing contract between Alberta and the federal government.
New Police Costing Model
For years, AUMA has been advocating for changes to policing, including how it is funded and how communities are served. We have been equally clear in our advocacy that any new funding model must take into consideration a municipality’s ability to pay for policing services, and that paying for policing must give municipalities a say in the delivery of police service in their community.
Last year, the previous government announced a comprehensive review of the Police Act. AUMA established a working group made up of municipalities of all sizes to inform our responses to consultation undertaken as part of the review. The group developed a written submission for the review, in partnership with AUMA’s Safe and Healthy Communities Committee, in Spring 2019.
In September 2019, the provincial government released a draft police costing model that would apply to municipalities with populations under 5,000, as well as municipal districts and counties, that do not currently pay directly for RCMP services. Justice and Solicitor General also conducted a survey and accepted written submissions on the model, with engagement closing on October 15, 2019. The AUMA Police Act Working Group assisted in developing AUMA’s response to the call for feedback on the draft police funding model. The full submission can be viewed here.
The new police costing model was announced on December 4, 2019, The model reflects many of AUMA’s recommendations, such as use of population and equalized assessment to simulate demand and ability to pay, and the establishment of an Alberta Police Advisory Board with equal representation from AUMA and RMA to guide the implementation of the new model.
Communities will be eligible for subsidies that consider factors that may affect local policing costs:
- Shadow population: This takes into account costs associated with providing services to populations that don't live in a community and therefore don't contribute to its property tax base.
- Crime Severity Index (CSI): A community will be eligible for a subsidy if its average CSI over a three-year period is higher than the average for rural Alberta. CSI is a measurement used by Statistics Canada that places greater statistical weight on serious offences.
- Distance from RCMP detachment: This recognizes that communities without a detachment may experience longer response times.
- Enhanced officer positions: Communities with existing "enhanced" RCMP positions (officers employed by communities at their own expense) will no longer be billed for those positions.
Justice and Solicitor General has shared a spreadsheet that lists the costs for affected municipalities over the next five years, as well as sample calculations for the distribution of costs under the new model.
More work to come
AUMA is very concerned with the proposed timelines for implementation, which suggest that invoices will be issued as early as next spring, well after municipal budgets have been set for 2020. We are working with senior staff at the Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General to see if the implementation of the new model can be delayed in order to align with the 2021 municipal budgeting process, and we will pass along any further information once it becomes available.
Municipalities are already in a challenging position financially. Local governments are continually required to make tough economic decisions, since, unlike the other two orders of government, they cannot run financial deficits. We recognize that absorbing these policing costs will be a significant undertaking for some municipalities given these current fiscal realities.
If you have any questions about AUMA’s advocacy on this topic, please contact Kelly Santarossa, Senior Policy Advisor, at 780-409-4315 or firstname.lastname@example.org