Surrey RCMP’s operating budgets “will not be touched” despite a projected $10-million cut for RCMP’s policing costs in B.C.
The RCMP must cut more than $10 million from its policing costs in B.C., as first reported by the Vancouver Sun after obtaining a copy of an email from the province’s top Mountie, Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan.
Surrey RCMP Constable Richard Wright said the detachment doesn’t know which portion of the budget is being cut.
“We don’t know if it’s going to affect anything that affects Surrey, whether it’s going to be the investigational or the training or something like that,” Wright told the Now-Leader, adding that he can’t speak to how the budget has been “trimmed.”
Under the City of Surrey’s current contract, the city pays 90 per cent of the RCMP’s costs and the federal government pays the remaining 10 per cent.
Late Thursday, director of B.C. RCMP communications Dawn Roberts emphasized that the cuts are still just a projection, and the first things on the chopping block are travel expenses, overtime, non-mandatory training, and new equipment.
That won’t be enough, however, she added, so senior officers will need to discuss options with the province.
“We’re trying to be as transparent as possible. We do not want to impact front-line policing operations,” Roberts told Black Press Media in a phone interview.
When asked whether integrated units could be affected, she said: “All of us are looking at our spending envelope and seeing whether or not we can make reductions.”
Integrated units would include the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team and Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit B.C., which are both run out of the BC RCMP’s headquarters in Surrey.
In a statement to Black Press Media on Thursday, Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the RCMP has informed the province about a projected budget deficit, and that the impact of budget constraints and inflation has become increasingly difficult to manage.
“This has not impacted significant and continued provincial and federal investments into gangs and organized crime initiatives and prevention,” he said, adding that that includes the integrated anti-gang team, the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.
Brian Sauve, president of the National Police Federation, said he’s seen the internal email, and called the projected $10-million gap “deeply concerning.”
His main questions focus on how to maintain adequate levels of service and ensure staff receive enough down time. He said he’s seen mention of a “possible freeze” in staffing areas such as transfers and promotions.
However, Sauve said a lack of funding is nothing new.
“Whether it has to do with extra work or working harder to get the job done, they’ll still do it,” he told Black Press Media by phone.
The RCMP has not had union representation until now. The federation was finally certified as the official bargaining agent earlier this year following a historic court ruling in 2015.
Sauve said it will take time to influence budget and other negotiations, but he hopes to provide “the other side of the story” soon.
The Mounties’ B.C. division has not yet returned a request for comment.