Alberta’s NDP said the new report on provincial policing glosses over “hundreds of millions of dollars” in new costs for Alberta’s taxpayers. (Photo by Red Deer Advocate Staff)

Alberta’s NDP said the new report on provincial policing glosses over “hundreds of millions of dollars” in new costs for Alberta’s taxpayers. (Photo by Red Deer Advocate Staff)

Alberta police service ‘worth serious further consideration’: report

An independent report shows creating a made-in-Alberta provincial police service is “realistic, cost-effective and worth serious further consideration,” says the provincial government.

The Government of Alberta hired PwC Canada in October 2020 to study the feasibility of replacing the RCMP in Alberta with a provincial police service. This follows the recommendation of the Fair Deal Panel report that Alberta should actively consider the establishment of its own force.

PwC Canada’s report, released Friday, explores the operational needs, processes and potential transition costs and puts forward a provincial model that would put more front-line personnel in communities across Alberta at a total cost equal to, or lower than, the total cost of the RCMP contract policing model used in Alberta.

Kaycee Madu, Minister of Justice and Solicitor General, said during his rural crime tour this summer, rural Albertans expressed deep concern about crime in their communities.

“PwC Canada has developed a policing model that could address long-standing concerns about response times in rural areas and put more boots on the ground. We’re eager to share these innovative and thought-provoking ideas with stakeholders and hear their thoughts over the coming months,” said Madu.

The policing model presented by PwC proposes “innovative approaches” to service delivery and governance that have the potential to better address the root causes of crime through built-in partnerships with mental health and addictions professionals, the provincial government said.

PwC also proposes establishing a provincial police commission and commissions at the local level to increase accountability and ensuring a governance role for Indigenous people. A key element of the report is an enhancement of community policing with an increased emphasis on local recruiting and retention.

Alberta’s NDP said the report glosses over “hundreds of millions of dollars” in new costs for Alberta’s taxpayers.

“Almost $200 million in federal funding will be given up if we move to a provincial force,” said Irfan Sabir, NDP Critic for Justice.

“On top of this, the UCP’s own report says it will cost $366 million in up-front transition costs alone. So while the minister twists himself into knots to claim there will not be any additional costs for Albertans, this is simply not true.”

The government will continue to study the feasibility of a provincial police service. As part of this, the Alberta government will conduct a stakeholder engagement beginning in late November.

The engagement will include meetings with municipalities, First Nations and Métis communities, law enforcement organizations and public safety partners, such as victims services organizations and rural crime watch groups.

The Alberta Urban Municipalities Association said it will need some time to review and analyze the contents of the report before offering specific comments.

“While we are unable to comment on specific details from the report at this time, we are concerned that some important questions may not have been asked by PwC, and therefore, may not have been answered. We are also concerned that the report may be missing some key information and may have failed to consider some important factors,” said AUMA.

“The AUMA maintains that a fair and democratic referendum on the establishment of a provincial police service should occur if the Government of Alberta decides it wants to go this route. Premier Jason Kenney said as much in November 2019 and we expect him to honour his commitment.”

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