UBCM Police Act submission

UBCM has prepared a submission for consideration by the Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act. The Special Committee will make recommendations to the Legislative Assembly on reforms related to the modernization and sustainability of policing; the role of police with respect to complex social issues including mental health and wellness, addictions and harm reduction; the scope of systemic racism within BC's police agencies; and whether there are measures necessary to ensure a modernized Police Act is consistent with the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.

UBCM’s feedback has been organized into six broad themes: support for law enforcement; public trust and accountability; responsibility and resourcing for services; efficiency and effectiveness; coordination and communication; and, ongoing engagement. Under each identified theme, UBCM has recommended issues for the Special Committee to examine as it reviews the Police Act. Among these issues is a request for ongoing provincial consultation with local governments throughout the review. This is supported through a recently endorsed UBCM resolution seeking thorough consultation with local governments prior to the implementation of any changes to the Act.

The Police Act is vitally important to local governments, who pay a significantly larger share of policing costs than the Province or federal government. Provincial data shows that local government policing costs exceeded $1.35 billion in 2019, equating to approximately 67% of all financial contributions towards policing British Columbia. The Province contributed 20%, while the federal government added 13%.

 

On top of paying the largest share of policing costs, local governments are likely to see costs increase due to arbitrated settlements and an RCMP collective agreement, as well as operational changes that are implemented.

“As policing costs continue to escalate, local governments require solutions to address associated budgetary pressures,” said Councillor Brian Frenkel, UBCM president. “The Police Act review presents an opportunity to provide critical input to modernize policing and address current issues, while ensuring affordability.” 

During the early stages of the review, the provincial Director of Police Services delivered a presentation that was considered by UBCM in preparing its own input. Concerns related to governance, service delivery and funding have been reflected in UBCM’s submission.

UBCM has been invited to present its submission to the Special Committee on February 8, 2021. Local governments seeking an opportunity to provide direct feedback or wishing to be added to the Police Act email distribution list may contact the Parliamentary Committees Office. Key updates will be provided by UBCM through The Compass.

The Special Committee is expected to complete its review, and deliver a final report by October 8, 2021.

Background

The Police Act provides the framework for the delivery of police services throughout British Columbia, including responsibilities assigned to the Province and local governments. Under the Act, the Province is responsible for the provision of policing services to local governments under 5,000 in population and unincorporated areas. Local governments over 5,000 in population assume responsibility for providing, and bearing the necessary expenses of, policing within their boundaries.

Last year the Province announced that it would be initiating a review of the Police Act. An all-party Special Committee on Reforming the Police Act has been established to review legislation and make recommendations.

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