Last night’s (Wednesday) Prince George budget talks didn’t see a cut to the RCMP, but more steps were made to understand the costs and potential issues.
“I would really like us to dig a little deeper to try and better understand the contract we have that is a $30 million contract, that is a big amount of money that our taxpayers are paying,” said Councillor Cori Ramsay.
Councillor Frank Everitt agreed with Ramsay’s inquiry, and wanted a clearer picture on how these contracts are made.
“The questions that (Ramsay) asked about whether there’s savings, and the research that she’s done proves that there’s a difference in what the pay is in particular areas of the province with peer municipalities, then we should understand that, clearly. And if there’s a $2 million difference with considerable more officers, how do we get to that point?”
Superintendent Shaun Wright suggested bringing in a 3rd party consultant to look into how the RCMP is distributing it’s resources in the Monday Council Meeting.
Director of Public Safety Adam Davey said he has already made some steps in getting more information on February 7th.
“I did follow up with the Superintendent, and both the administration and RCMP certainly see this as a worthwhile endeavor, and we think the best way to do this is would be through an independent 3rd party to have a look at that and compare us to peer municipalities.”
Steps are also being taken to fight against the retroactive pay that was dictated by the Federal Government, and trying to get a larger share of the cost put back on the feds.
The City has set aside around $4 million for retroactive costs, but the total amount due is about $6.5 million.
A letter has been put together from municipalities like Prince George, Kelowna, Kamloops, Nanaimo, and Vernon, asking the Federal Government to pay a minimum of 50% of the retroactive costs.
“This is hitting hard at all of our friends, all across Canada, and they’re not sitting down. Like our Council has unanimously said, give us the retroactive money, help us out. So here’s the interesting part to watch, the Federal budget is going to be coming down, and this advocacy hasn’t been quiet. We’ve sent our letter, but municipalities all across have been doing that, and talking to their MP’s,” said Councillor Garth Frizzell.
The proposal to enhance some of the RCMP services was shut down.
The document suggested that two training officers could be brought in to create an internal program to better prepare officers for things like crisis de-escalation and basic trauma medicine.
Another two officers were suggested to be brought in as Investigative Support Team investigators to try and relieve pressure from frontline officers so that they could cover more immediate calls or proactive duties.
A motion was also passed to invite the Crown to City Council at a later date to try and build a better relationship between Council, Crown, and the RCMP.
“We keep hearing different stories, a different perspective, from the Crown, as we do from the RCMP,” said Councillor Terri McConnachie.
“It would be really nice to drill down and get to that because that’s one of the greatest ways we could support our members out on the street, is ensuring that there’s not a literally foot on their windpipe when they’re trying to take care of crime in our city.”