Anticipating RCMP unionization costs

As collective bargaining between the federal government and National Police Federation continues, the confidential nature of these discussions has created uncertainty regarding financial implications for contract partners. In anticipation of increased RCMP policing costs, UBCM has undertaken a broad review of recently concluded collective agreements as a means to better understand potential financial impacts.

In examining police collective agreements concluded in British Columbia, as well as those from Canada’s largest population centres, there were several key findings:

  • Wage parity is being achieved amongst municipal police forces. This becomes more apparent when examining collective agreements concluded over the past 3 years;
  • The starting salary at most of the police agencies included in the review was greater than $70,000 per year, which is over 30% more than what is initially offered by the RCMP ($53,144 for the first 6 months of service);
  • The salary for a first class constable at most of the police agencies included in the review was greater than $100,000 per year, which is over 15% more than what is offered by the RCMP ($86,110).

It is also important to note that RCMP salaries have been frozen since December 31, 2016, when the most recent pay package expired. While RCMP National Headquarters has previously instructed Divisions to project a 2.5% pay increase retroactive to this date, the above information suggests this annual projected rate will likely be insufficient. 

The findings presented above are consistent with views expressed by former RCMP Deputy Commissioner Peter German, who earlier this year noted that the wage gap between RCMP and municipal police forces is 15-20%.

Given the potential for a significant salary increase for RCMP Members, as well as other operational changes that could have a financial impact on police budgets, UBCM continues to advise local governments to plan for potential cost increases. Although it is unknown when a collective agreement will be reached, the National Police Federation - the union representing RCMP Members - has stated that it is aiming to have an agreement to present to its membership for approval by the summer of 2021. 

To ensure that federal Treasury Board is kept informed of the potential impact of negotiated items on contract partners, a group of four (4) Provincial Assistant Deputy Ministers from across Canada are available to federal Treasury Board. British Columbia’s Director of Police Services has been a participant in this group. 

UBCM continues to advocate for a labour relations regime that ensures the affordability and sustainability of policing in communities that utilize RCMP services; and, ongoing consultation and communication between the federal government and local governments during the collective bargaining process. 

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