(File photo from Black Press News Services)

Innisfail mayor slams federal government for downloading RCMP costs

Retroactive RCMP pay will cost Innisfail nearly $300,000

Town of Innisfail faces a nearly $300,000 bill to cover retroactive RCMP pay increases.

Mayor Jean Barclay joined other municipal leaders and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) in expressing their dismay with the federal government’s decision not to absorb retroactive costs tied to the latest RCMP collective bargaining agreement.

The 2023 federal budget released on March 28 confirmed that communities that rely on RCMP for policing must cover the retroactive costs, which amount to $287,994 for Innisfail.

“We are extremely disappointed with this decision and we will continue advocating for a more equitable solution from the federal government,” said Barclay in a statement on Tuesday.

“They need to reconsider their stance. There is too much downloading of costs to municipalities and this is yet another example.”

FCM strongly lobbied for some financial relief from the policing bills. The organization was critical of the government for not including municipalities in RCMP contract negotiations. While some communities received estimates of expected costs, they turned out to be far lower than those that came out of the new agreement that included retroactive pay going back to 2017.

“This decision is an example of a federal commitment that deeply impacts municipalities, without municipalities being properly consulted or involved. Municipal governments are paying a growing share of policing costs, but they cannot run deficits and have limited revenue tools,” says the Innisfail statement.

FCM has called for more municipal involvement in future RCMP contract decisions.

“This is a position supported in full by Innisfail.”

Red Deer Mayor Ken Johnston also recently expressed his unhappiness with the situation, saying he was “extraordinarily disappointed.”

Johnston questioned the fairness of sticking communities with this bill — $6.3 million for Red Deer — when they had no voice in the latest salary agreement, which was solely worked out between the RCMP union and the federal government.

The FCM said in a recent statement that essentially, Ottawa “negotiated with municipal money but not with municipal input, (which) is not acceptable.

“The situation cannot occur again,” said FCM president Taneen Rudyk.

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