Municipalities in Manitoba and beyond hope they will not be left on the hook of a substantial increase in policing costs negotiated between the federal government and the National Police Federation.
The Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM) tells Global News that the 23.7 percent wage increase, which is retroactive to 2017, is going to “negatively affect all municipalities.”
“We were not consulted. We weren’t at the table, ”says Denys Volkov, CEO of AMM. “So what we’re saying is that if we weren’t at the table, we shouldn’t be committed to this increase.”
Volkov says they knew an increase would likely occur in 2015, when the Supreme Court of Canada ruled that mounted have the right to collective bargaining.
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“Municipalities were told to set aside 2.5 percent per year, but when the 23.7 percent number came out, they all realized that the previous estimate given to municipalities was not enough to cover the increase.” says Volkov.
“That is why we have increased our lobbying to say that the federal government should cover all of this increase retroactively.”
The WMA continues to work with its national counterpart, the Canadian Federation of Municipalities, to pressure the Fed to pay the bill, and Volkov says they are urging members to send letters directly to the federal minister of public safety and emergency preparedness. ” highlighting that the municipalities are not in a position to pay these increases. “
The exact dollar amount each municipality will be committed to varies, Volkov says, depending on their existing contracts.
He says some jurisdictions pay 70 percent of RCMP salaries, others 90 percent, and some less, depending on their size.
The latest to join the lobbying campaign is the city of Selkirk, and CAO Duane Nicol said the rise would put “substantial” strain on the city’s finances.
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“The City of Selkirk has a strong working relationship with the local RCMP leadership and we get great service, our issue is not with the local detachment or the quality of service we receive. And it’s certainly not a problem with the level of compensation for officers, ”Nicol said in a press release on Friday.
“Our problem is that we were not part of the process, and this is a great financial blow for the municipalities. Without some support from the federal government, this will put a lot of pressure on the city budget. It will mean a tax increase or a cut to other services. “
In 2021, $ 2.92 million of Selkirk’s operating budget was dedicated to the RCMP, and just over 20 percent of total operating expenses went to surveillance costs.
The city says it is the largest service area in its operating budget.
Global News reached out to the federal government’s department of public safety and emergency preparedness for comment, but did not receive a response by the end of the day on Monday.
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