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RCMP says impending budget cuts won't impact service

RCMP raided a home in the Mission last week found to contain a massive supply of drugs and a two-year-old child.
November 15, 2019 - 1:15 PM

The RCMP is facing a budget crisis for the rest of the year but as it seeks to make cuts, largely to small detachments, the general public shouldn't see many changes, a representative for the national police force said Thursday.

“(Cuts) won’t compromise public safety or officer and employee wellness,” Dawn Roberts, B.C. RCMP spokesperson said.

The RCMP is not allowed to run over its budget, and in an internal email sent to staff from Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan, changes are required in light of a forecasted deficit of $10.7 million.  

That money will be cut from the more than $450-million RCMP provincial policing budget that funds rural detachments and special units such as the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team and the anti-gang Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.

The cuts would have no effect on municipal policing, in places like Kelowna or Vernon or Kamloops, which is funded 10 per cent by the provincial government and 90 per cent by the municipality. 

It also does not affect the Ottawa-funded organized crime section.

It is, however, the budget that pays for officers in smaller detachments and funding for units integrated with other police services such as IHIT or the CFSEU.

“We are going to freeze some discretionary so; do we need to make that purchase on that non-critical operational item?”

While she said it’s too early to tell exactly how the cuts will roll out, the RCMP has already decided to postpone decisions with regards to replacing their provincial marine vehicles.

They will also look at postponing or reducing vehicle purchases as cars “mile out.”

“We anticipate that the average general public will not see a change in how we deliver our policing services and I think there are aspects of provincial business... where there’s a small detachment of five or seven, maybe they are exactly where they are in their spending and they won’t go over,” she said. “They’re OK, then. But maybe other larger areas, there are some cost savings there because the totality of the budget is being impacted.”

Only time will tell how that plays out in the small, rural detachments in the Interior, but Roberts said that the RCMP has signaled its financial pressures to the provincial government and are working closely with the solicitor general and B.C. police services to make sure provincial budget is funded “and if necessary … looking at things with them that maybe we shouldn’t be providing under that overall service delivery.”

MLA Mike Morris, the B.C. Liberal Public Safety & Solicitor General Critic, sent out a statement in the immediate aftermath of the budget cut news, saying the NDP is failing to fight for rural communities.

“The Police Act lays out that it is the Minister’s responsibility to ensure an adequate and effective level of policing in the province. This Minister is clearly derelict in his duty,” said Morris, MLA for Prince George-Mackenzie. “The consequences of ignoring rural concerns and imposing an Employer Health Tax (EHT) throughout the province are coming at the cost of public safety. The NDP’s reckless actions are endangering rural British Columbians.”

"In June, the Victoria Police Department cut their entire Crime Reduction Unit in order to afford John Horgan’s new Employer Health Tax. Today’s RCMP cuts will hurt small rural detachments as well as funding for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team and the anti-gang Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit."

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