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Why is Alberta considering alternatives to RCMP contract policing?


The federal government is considering the future of contract policing. In 2021, the House of Commons released a report on the subject. It found that that the RCMP has difficulty providing both community policing and national policing services. The federal government has also acknowledged the rising cost of RCMP contract policing.  The Prime Minister recently wrote a letter to the minister responsible for the RCMP asking for a review of contract policing. A review would include consultation with provinces, territories, municipalities, and Indigenous communities.

In 2019, the federal government confirmed that there are systemic sustainability challenges impacting the entire RCMP.  This was disclosed as part of a briefing note provided to the federal Minister of Public Safety (the Minister responsible for the RCMP).

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How and when will the provincial government decide whether or not to establish an Alberta provincial police service?


The Alberta government hasn’t made any decision about replacing the RCMP. We believe it’s prudent to weigh all our options –in light of the indications that the federal government is considering changes to RCMP contract policing when the current agreements expire in 2032.

Doesn’t the provincial government already have a say in how the RCMP is run in Alberta?


The provincial government pays for police services by the RCMP in some communities. As such, the province has some say in high-level policing priorities that do not conflict with federal rules. Day-to-day operations and how the RCMP conducts its work are however, up to the RCMP.

These operational decisions include staffing levels, recruitment, and retention of employees.

The funding arrangement comes with an agreement that is structured to allow the federal government to have most of the say in how the RCMP operates. The agreement states that the RCMP is a federal entity and matters related to the control, management, and administration of the RCMP are within exclusive federal jurisdiction.

Some municipalities say they’re happy with the status quo. Why can’t we just improve the RCMP rather than build a new provincial police?


The RCMP falls under federal jurisdiction. That means the province of Alberta does not have the authority to make changes or decisions on our own.

The federal government and RCMP make their decisions with all of Canada in mind. An Alberta provincial police would be able to make decisions based on the unique public safety needs of Alberta's communities. The authority to make these type of decisions would also stay within the province.

How would this affect First Nation communities in Alberta?


The Government of Alberta supports the expansion of self-administered First Nations policing for First Nations who choose this option.

A new Indigenous and Municipal Police Transition Study Grant offers up to $30,000 which offer Indigenous communities and municipalities up to $30,000 toward developing a feasibility study for a local, self-administered police service or a regional policing model.

If Alberta had its own provincial police, would there still be an RCMP presence in Alberta?


Yes, there would still be many RCMP officers stationed in Alberta even if Alberta had its own provincial police. The RCMP provides federal policing across Canada. Much like Alberta, in Ontario and Quebec there are hundreds of RCMP officers currently working alongside local police. These RCMP members enforce federal laws including border integrity, national security, drugs and organized crime, cybercrime, financial crime, and international policing.

If you replace the RCMP with a provincial police service, won’t we lose millions of dollars in federal funding?


There is no guarantee that the federal government would continue to subsidize RCMP policing as much as they do now, or at all after the current contract expires in 2032.

Currently, the federal government contributes 30% of the cost for RCMP contract policing. The province pays the other 70%.

Would the cost of a provincial police service be downloaded onto municipalities?


No, Alberta’s government has committed to not creating any additional costs for municipalities.

If Alberta developed an Alberta Police Service, how can you ensure that transition costs would not balloon or that there would not be service gaps that compromise public safety?


Any transitions to policing would not be rushed and would occur over several years through a staged approach to minimize risks.

Where would the officers come from? What would happen to the RCMP officers that are currently working in Alberta?


If a transition were to occur, RCMP members who would like to stay in Alberta could have that opportunity.

How would you ensure that RCMP members who transfer to an Alberta provincial police are paid appropriately?


Although not decided, if Alberta were to transition to an Alberta provincial police force, competitive salary would of course be a goal.

How would this change affect municipalities that already have their own police service? For example, Calgary, Edmonton, Camrose, Taber, Lethbridge, Medicine Hat, and Lacombe?


If there was an Alberta Police Service, municipal police would continue to operate as normal. So would self-administered First Nations police services in Alberta. The transition to an Alberta provincial police service would only directly affect areas currently using RCMP contract policing.

What if our municipality wants to have its own police service?


Communities that want to explore new and innovative approaches to policing are eligible for a provincial grant to help cover costs for a feasibility study.

The Alberta government is providing $6 million over two years for Indigenous and Municipal Police Transition Study Grants, which offer Indigenous communities and municipalities up to $30,000 toward developing a feasibility study for a local, self-administered police service or a regional policing model.

Alberta's government created the grants in response to communities across the province that have expressed an interest in exploring a different policing model. The grants help communities cover the cost of conducting necessary research into local public safety needs, capital requirements and transition considerations. For municipalities that progress to more advanced discussions, Alberta’s government is prepared to discuss potential funding models with them.

Why would a stand-alone police service be preferable to the RCMP?


Each community has its own reasons for considering different policing models. We created the grant program in response to requests from communities interested in exploring alternatives to the RCMP contract policing model.

Some communities feel that a local, self-administered police service would be more in tune with their priorities. Self-administered policing gives communities an ability, at the local level, to set public safety priorities and address concerns like long response times. Self-administered police services can create career opportunities for local residents and attract recruits familiar with the area’s distinct needs, culture and geography.

My community now has a bill for retroactive pay for RCMP officers. What can we do about that?


This is an example of some of the control that the federal government has over RCMP policing in the province and it is also another reason why municipalities have or may wish to consider applying for a grant to examine what the best model is for their community.

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