AUMA has long advocated for a more equitable police funding model to address RCMP vacancies and the rising costs of policing while improving community safety. 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.
On December 4, 2019, the provincial government announced a new police costing model that applies to urban municipalities with populations under 5,000 and all municipal districts and counties. 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. The funds generated by this new model, a total of $286 million over five years, will be invested in frontline law enforcement, with the federal government contributing an additional $85.6 million to rural policing.
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.
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.
Now available: detailed information about cost impacts to municipalities
The Ministry of Justice and Solicitor General has provided additional information for AUMA members, including a spreadsheet for all costs, as well as sample calculations. Download them directly below, or visit our policing hub for more information on AUMA's policing advocacy.
Feel free to contact our Advocacy staff if you have any questions about this issue, and watch for an email from AUMA President Barry Morishita with further information.