Results of an online survey shows 80 per cent of Albertans remain satisfied with RCMP policing even as the UCP government pushes for a provincial police force, says the union representing RCMP.
The National Police Federation (NPF) said a recent Pollara Strategic Insights survey, of 1,221 Albertans conducted Oct. 27 to Nov. 4, revealed that a provincial force “does not help at all” according to almost two/thirds of respondents, and 70 per cent opposed replacing the RCMP.
“Albertans couldn’t be less interested in this proposal, despite repeated attempts by Premier (Jason) Kenney and others to make a case for a smaller, prohibitively costly and untested provincial police service,” said Brian Sauvé, federation president in a statement.
“Even more importantly, now that the APPS Transition Study has finally been released confirming that a new provincial police service will cost Alberta taxpayers about $550 million more for about half as many fully trained police officers, support for this will undoubtedly slip even lower.”
Each time the City of Red Deer studied the pros and cons of cost of starting a city-run police department, the expense was found to significantly outweigh the benefits.
The federation represents 20,000 RCMP members in Canada and internationally, including over 3,500 in Alberta.
The NPF said it is focused on improving public safety in Canada by supporting an increase in resources, equipment and training for members who have been under-funded for far too long.
Recently the NPF attended the Alberta Municipalities’, and Rural Municipalities of Alberta’s conferences to speak with municipal leaders and residents.
“Not a single person, even those in non-RCMP served communities, supported this transition. All wanted to keep the RCMP, providing further confirmation that this government is simply not listening to residents or their elected representatives,” Sauvé said.
Alberta Municipalities is pushing for a referendum to be held on the question of having a provincial police force, as was promised by the premier in 2019.
The provincial government maintains that no extra expense would be incurred in making the switch to an Alberta police force, according to the results of an independent report prepared by PwC Canada.
Alex Puddifant, spokesperson for the Minister of Justice Kaycee Madu, said a massive 53 per cent of respondents to the Pollara survey lived in Calgary and Edmonton – cities not policed by the RCMP, and who aren’t effected by the pervasive issues of rural crime and long response times.
“An unspecified portion of respondents were surveyed before the provincial government released hundreds of pages of independent research that lay out a vision for an Alberta provincial police service that’s cost-effective, responsive to the needs of Albertans and could better address the root causes of crime in our communities,” said Puddifant in a statement.
He said the survey also doesn’t reflect the fact that 47 communities in Alberta with RCMP municipal policing agreements are grappling with how to pay for the massive policing cost increase resulting from the RCMP’s new collective agreement with its union – including back pay to 2016 – negotiations of which Alberta’s government was not included.
“The findings of this poll should be viewed through a critical lens, considering the source is the RCMP’s union,” Puddifant said.