To keep our communities safe and to protect our way of life, Alberta needs police services that are well managed, properly resourced, and accountable to local communities.
The national model that we have right now does not meet these expectations. The RCMP is stretched far and wide, dealing with everything from national threats to traffic stops in small-town Alberta.
We believe policing can be improved to meet the needs of all Albertans. That’s why our government has developed a proposal to create a provincial police service.
I want to be clear: this proposal is not a criticism of the RCMP. Our frontline officers do amazing work. Our concerns are with a national policing model that is bureaucratic and unaccountable.
Over the years, Alberta, other Canadian provinces, and even the federal government have repeatedly identified problems with this national policing model. This national model does a poor job of recruiting police officers. It fails to properly staff rural detachments. It trains police officers outside of Alberta. It uses a lab system that fails to process evidence fast enough. And it excludes municipalities from collective bargaining for the RCMP while offloading increased costs onto municipalities.
The provincial model that Alberta has proposed will increase the number of frontline police officers and civilian specialists in every detachment. It will expand the use of mental health nurses. It will reduce the transfer of officers in and out of communities. And, importantly, it will increase the ability for municipal governments to have a say in local policing, and be more cost-effective.
Alberta is not the only province interested in establishing a provincial police service. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Saskatchewan are all looking at the same issue. This spring, an all-party committee in British Columbia unanimously recommended replacing the RCMP with a provincial police service. And last year, a federal report recommended that the federal government explore ending the use of the RCMP for local policing and help provinces interested in setting up their own police service.
If a new provincial police service is created, it would not replace municipal or First Nation police services. In fact, Alberta’s government will actively support municipalities and First Nations that are interested in creating their own police service.
Under the proposed provincial model, no municipality will face increased costs. Municipalities would pay the same or less for a provincial police service compared to what they pay for the RCMP. This is a far better bargain than the federal model, which will require municipalities to pay a larger share of policing costs in the coming years.
We believe that policing can be improved in our province. Over the summer, I will be meeting with municipalities, stakeholders and Albertans to continue this important and long overdue conversation.
Tyler Shandro, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General