Municipalities ‘blindsided’
by approved RCMP costs

Ottawa didn’t consult them
on pay raises for Mountie members

Kelly Sinoski, Vancouver Sun, April 7, 2012


B.C. municipalities are seeking answers from the federal government on what pay raises for the RCMP announced this week will cost local governments.

Langley City Mayor Peter Fassbender, who has been on the negotiating team for an RCMP contract for the past four years, said municipalities were shocked to hear about Ottawa’s plan for seven separate increases for RCMP members over the next three years.

The decision was made by the Treasury Board without consultation with municipalities, and included in the federal budget.

Municipalities were told about the raises Wednesday — two weeks after B.C. signed a 20-year deal to keep the RCMP, after threatening earlier to pull out and create its own force.

The deal, which is now being ratified by municipalities, was focused on controlling costs to municipalities.

But Surrey Mayor Dianne Watts said the pay raise move could potentially cost her city $6 million to $8 million more in extra costs. Surrey has Canada’s largest RCMP detachment.

“This is not an issue as to whether the RCMP get a raise or not,” Watts said. “The piece here is there was no consultation, no input. All of a sudden it was passed by Treasury Board and here’s your bill. Whether there’s offsetting or other additional costs, we don’t know.

“Everyone was blindsided by this.”

Fassbender has sent a letter, on behalf of the Union of B.C. Municipalities, to federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews, asking the federal government to provide all the cost impacts — both increases and decreases — of the pay raises for the next three years as soon as possible to clarify the situation.

The letter argues the move could have a “major impact on all local government elected officials.”

“This development, I can assure you, will create a significant backlash from local governments and their citizens,” Fassbender wrote. “As you know we have all worked hard, particularly in the later stages of the negotiations, to build a climate of true partnership and cooperation ...

“We now face the prospect of going to our municipal councils to request additional funding to cover these new costs.”

The new funding formula for the RCMP remains the same as the old contract — 90-10, with local governments paying the biggest chunk, for cities larger than 15,000 and 70-30 for smaller cities of between 5,000 and 15,000 — but the contract gives the B.C. government and municipalities more say about how the force operates and how it spends public funds.

There will be a new management committee with 10 municipal representatives, as well as B.C. officials, that will be consulted before the RCMP makes fiscal decisions in B.C.

Fassbender noted municipalities have already set their budgets for this year, and “we’re not going to increases taxes for a situation we weren’t even told about or given a heads up.”

Justice Minister Shirley Bond said she did not receive direct information about a new compensation package for the RCMP and has asked staff to contact the federal government for more clarification.

“On several calls we were reassured that this decision — in conjunction with other federal budget measures — was unlikely to result in increased costs and may be a net benefit,” she said in the statement.

“I am deeply concerned about any potential impacts on our municipalities and that this information came as a surprise ... I want to be very clear in saying that we stand solidly beside our municipalities on this matter — it is critical that the commitment made to municipalities in the new RCMP contract is honoured.”

B.C. is home to 9,500 RCMP officers and civilian employees — more than any other province.

Read how disgraced Mounties get regular salary increases
while spending years on paid suspension
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