Update on settlement of longstanding RCMP issues

The Ministry of Public Safety and Solicitor General, on March 23, 2020, reached an agreement with the federal government to resolve three long-standing disputed items under the Police Service Agreements. The Settlement Agreement between BC and Canada is retroactive to April 1, 2019, and will impact the cost of policing for local governments that utilize RCMP services. UBCM has sought additional information subsequent to the announcement to make that available to our members.

The Settlement Agreement serves to resolve the following issues:

“E” Division Headquarters Building Costs

The RCMP Police Service Agreements (PSAs) outline a set of building costs to be paid based on whether a building is considered new or existing. Construction of the current RCMP “E” Division Headquarters Building (‘Green Timbers’) began in advance of the 2012 PSAs being signed. The facility was completed in December 2012, after these agreements had come into force.

The dispute relates to whether Green Timbers is considered a new or existing building, with the federal government previously asking the Province to pay for expenses that are not required for an existing building. Prior to this issue being resolved, the RCMP had already begun to invoice local governments for a share of building costs. Some local governments decided to pay immediately, while others chose to defer payment.

As part of the Settlement Agreement, British Columbia has agreed to a compromised building cost; more than would be expected if Green Timbers was considered existing, but less than if it was considered new. Local governments will continue to pay regular operations, maintenance and administration costs, but will also pay building costs (billed quarterly). As the Green Timbers costs have been negotiated at a lower rate than local governments were previously being billed (see above), the result is a modest credit for those who’ve been making regular payments. For those who deferred payment, they now owe the negotiated amount [PDF - 56 KB], as indicated in correspondence from PSSG.

IHIT Past and Future Cost Share

In advance of the 2012 Police Service Agreements being finalized, Public Safety Canada supported a 70-30 cost share for integrated teams, including the Lower Mainland District Integrated Homicide Investigation Team (LMD IHIT). This position was subsequently rescinded, with the RCMP instructed to bill participating Lower Mainland local governments with a population of 15,000 or more at a 90-10 cost share for RCMP policed municipalities and at 100% for local governments with independent police departments. Most local governments disputed the claim for the additional 20% of the LMD IHIT costs and the amounts remained unpaid. Under the terms of the Settlement Agreement, the Province paid the difference between 70% and the total LMD IHIT costs between April 1, 2012 and March 31, 2019. For those local governments that paid more than 70% of their respective IHIT costs, a credit will be applied to future IHIT costs.

Under the Settlement Agreement, the Province and federal government have agreed to a 70-30 cost share for the LMD IHIT costs, including those from independent police agencies. Affected local governments will not be billed for the extra 20% or 30% paid by the Province.

Liquidation of Earned Retirement Benefits

In 2011, Federal Treasury Board began an initiative to eliminate severance pay (i.e. earned retirement benefits) throughout the federal public service. In lieu of severance pay, federal employees received a one-time 0.75% salary increase. Contract partners were advised, following the signing of the 2012 Police Service Agreements, that RCMP members would cease to accumulate severance pay for voluntary resignations and retirements as of March 31, 2012. Contract partners would be required to pay all accumulated severance earned prior to that date. 

Severance pay is an entitlement that RCMP regular and civilian members accumulated once reaching 10 years of service, and was based on the rate of pay of a member’s substantive position when leaving the RCMP. Some local governments have always been paying, through divisional administration costs, their share of the actual annual severance expenditure incurred within each fiscal year, while others have not paid.

Local governments expressed concerns with the possibility that they would be required to make a lump sum payment or that policy changes might permit members with under 10 years of service to accumulate severance pay. These issues have been resolved through the Settlement Agreement, which includes a 12-year interest-free amortization period for local governments, ending in 2032 when the current Police Service Agreements expire. Members who voluntarily resign or retire with less than 10 years of service will not be paid out for any earned retirement benefits. 

British Columbia’s share of Earned Retirement Benefits was based on a 70-30 cost share formula. The earned retirement benefits liability of each local government was determined by 2013/14 FTE utilization. 

There is a clause in the Settlement Agreement indicating that if another provincial or territorial governments receive a better deal than what Public Safety Canada and the Province have agreed upon for the retirement of severance pay, BC will receive the same benefit. For additional information on the retirement of severance accumulation, please see the supplemental document [PDF - 87 KB] provided by PSSG.

The provincial government has delivered correspondence to affected local governments, outlining specific financial impacts. Any questions regarding the items referenced in this article may be directed to Bhar Sihota, UBCM Senior Policy Analyst.

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