RCMP Contract Management Committee Update

On March 29, 2016, the Local Government Contract Management Committee (LGCMC) met with provincial and RCMP representatives to discuss issues related to the RCMP contract and policing in British Columbia. The following summary highlights key issues discussed at the meeting.

1) Working Group Discussion Items

RCMP Five-Year Review

Committee members discussed the issues brought forward by local governments as part of the Five-Year RCMP Contract Review. The Province has committed to ensuring all local government issues are addressed, even if they are not specific to the RCMP Contract. Provincial staff went through the review process thus far, including the list of issues (broken down into categories) that will be brought forward. It was noted that many of the issues brought forward by BC local governments pertained to the need for increased consultation with provincial and federal governments.

Outstanding Issues
There are several negotiation items that have been outstanding for multiple years, which the LGCMC would like to resolve in the near term.

The first dispute is whether the new RCMP E-Division HQ (Green Timbers) is considered an existing building or a new building under the PPSA. The federal government has asked the Province to pay for additional expenses that are not required for an “existing” building. Local governments are currently required to pay for a portion of costs for the Division Administration Unit occupying space in the new building. Lower Mainland District municipalities also pay for the space occupied by IHIT. The Province is also seeking to receive compensation from the sale of the old E-Division HQ building.

The Federal Government terminated RCMP Members’ entitlement to accumulate severance pay for voluntary resignations and retirements effective March 31, 2012. Provinces and Territories (PTs) disagreed with the Federal Government’s unilateral decision on a lump sum payout option and they wanted to pay the accumulated severance entitlement over the 20-year Police Service Agreements.

Prior to the 2012 RCMP Agreements, Public Safety Canada stated their support for integrated teams to be cost-shared at 70/30. However, Public Safety Canada has subsequently rescinded their position and instructed the RCMP to bill participating RCMP municipalities with a population of 15,000 and greater at 90/10. Local governments are requesting that Public Safety Canada re-establish this previously held position, as the difference between a 70/30 and 90/10 cost-share for IHIT is approximately $4 million annually.

In an effort to address these long outstanding issues, the LGCMC will write a letter of support to Public Safety Canada Minister Ralph Goodale, asking the Minister to intervene and find a solution to the three primary outstanding issues (Green Timbers, severance pay, integrated teams).

Auxiliary Constables

In British Columbia, the ACP has existed for over 50 years, and has been governed by provincial policy since 1999. Auxiliary Constables are appointed by the Province under the Police Act to assist the Provincial Police Force with its duties. After a recent review, a number of federal changes were introduced, including the discontinuation of ride-alongs and requirement of direct supervision (from a regular member) of Auxiliary Constables. With minimal opportunity to comment prior to these federal changes, the Province will be engaging local governments prior to revisions of the provincial policy.

Keep of Prisoners
An issue suggested by UBCM’s membership prior to this meeting, the Province briefly spoke about Keep of Prisoners (KOP), and in particular the 10 year old funding formula. There are currently internal discussions taking place at the provincial level, with the Province aware of the concerns that exist, including the current provincial recovery rate, and cases of prisoners being kept for weekends. The Ministry will continue raising this issue with BC Corrections. The Committee requests that any local governments with metrics/statistics that show the true cost of the KOP program, and/or information regarding provincial prisoners sitting in lockup for extended periods of time, forward this information to to Bhar Sihota, Policy Analyst, UBCM. 

New Labour Relations Model
On March 9, 2016, over one year after the Supreme Court had ruled that the RCMP had the right to collective bargaining, the federal government tabled Bill C-7 to create a new labour relations structure for RCMP members and reservists. The new legislation includes collective bargaining rights and the inclusion of binding arbitration as the method for dispute resolution. There is no right to strike. The Committee discussed this development, including potential impacts on operating costs.

BC Municipal Companion Document Working Group

Provincial staff discussed the status of the Working Group, which was in the process of solidifying the date of their first meeting. In preparation for the meeting, all Working Group members have selected 2-3 articles in the Companion Document for which they will lead a discussion. The LGCMC will be provided an update on the Working Group’s progress by the end of summer.

2) RCMP Update

New Labour Relations Model
The RCMP received an update in mid-March that indicated the current staff relations program would conclude on May 17, 2016, to be replaced by Member Workplace Advisors (MWA) who report directly to Ottawa and will support individual members (but not the collective). It is possible that Bill C-7 will receive royal ascent on June 30, 2016. There is still uncertainty as to which organizations will offer to represent the workforce after that date. The RCMP noted that member representation might be provided either by an established union or a newly formed organization.

Auxiliary Constable Program
Acknowledging the presentation made earlier by Clayton Pecknold, the RCMP noted that there have been 35 work-related injuries to Auxiliary Constables (AC) since 2001. When added to the 2014 shootings in Moncton and Ottawa, there was an increased urgency to do a review of the program. The latest review, following the St. Albert Casino incident, showed that AC duties exceeded capability. The review also showed that non-uniform attire mitigated risk. A hazard assessment process contributed to the national program changes, which include a decrease in responsibility and in particular, the end to ride-alongs.

Pay Council Report/Compensation
There is currently no further update on the status of the report to Cabinet regarding RCMP compensation. Due to the change in government (federal), this item has been put on hold. A timeframe for the decision has not been set.

Human Trafficking
There was no substantial update on this item, forwarded to the Committee and RCMP from UBCM’s Community Safety Committee. Going forward, the LGCMC is interested to know how human trafficking operations are funded over time.

Police Dog Services Review
The current review is looking at efficiency, and in particular the idea of “hubbing” – having a hub outside of the national training centre in Alberta in order to minimize costs while keeping service levels high. If there are fewer dog teams, the cost will rise, as the dog services cost is one amount divided among those local governments with dog teams. The cost is rolled into the per officer cost. The Committee had several concerns, including the lack of local government input on how to increase cost efficiency, why the overall cost was significantly higher than some municipal police departments (e.g. Vancouver PD), and the need for taxpayers to be given an explanation. The RCMP is exploring the possibility of a directed review on this matter.

Vacancy Management
The RCMP is currently trying to ramp up depot. RCMP senior staff explained that increased funding is expected to help with this task. The Committee noted that oftentimes all operations and maintenance related to increased funding flows down to the provinces and local governments. It was acknowledged that a fairly significant vacancy pattern exists for federal police officers.

Technology Update
The RCMP has recently reviewed a report on body worn cameras, looking at issues such as privacy and data storage among other things. The City of Calgary decided to back away from a pilot project due to privacy and data storage issues. Provincial staff noted that they have received a legislative committee recommendation to explore body worn cameras – this will include a consultation document and engagement process.

RCMP staff discussed Wisetrack (asset tracking software) and its use, as part of a pilot project in Maple Ridge, Burnaby and Langley. It has gone so well in Maple Ridge that the RCMP may be looking to roll this out to all police forces.

Provincial staff discussed GeoDash predictive policing software that is used to deploy resources to “hot” areas where statistics show a large percentage of criminal activity is taking place. This also allows for police departments to put out lagging indicators to citizens as to the more dangerous areas (according to software statistics).

The general threat level is medium. Nothing specific is happening domestically, although some unspecified long-term projects are ongoing.

Shared Services Canada
There is ongoing dialogue between RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson and Shared Services Canada (SSC) over issues of public safety and alleged compromised court cases. E-Division is voicing its concerns to Paulson, who in turn will take these concerns to Minister Goodale. Despite all that is going on, the RCMP confirmed that nothing has changed from a service delivery perspective.

The Local Government Contract Management Committee would appreciate your feedback on any of the RCMP contract and other policing issues identified above. UBCM members who have questions or comments are encouraged to contact Bhar Sihota, UBCM Policy Analyst.

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