08/13/2013

The rising cost of police services affects municipalities across Ontario, whether they have their own force or OPP-contracted services.

Ontario’s municipalities spent more than $3.7 billion on police services in 2011.  These costs grew nearly six per cent from the previous year – a pace nearly three times higher than the rate of inflation.  Since 2001, total policing costs in the Province have grown by $1.5 billion.

This growth is not sustainable.  Ever-rising police costs means that fewer resources are available to deliver the other core municipal services, including road and bridge repairs, waste management, public transit and social housing.   

Per capita policing costs in Ontario are $294, well above the national average of $268. Some of the key factors influencing these costs include:  interest arbitration, the benchmarking of salary increases against one another, salaries that are growing at about twice the rate as the rest of the public sector, and a growing pension burden.

To stem these rising costs, AMO is calling for continued efforts to improve interest arbitration and reform pensions.  Some other key activities include:

Auditor General’s Review of the OPP:  In late 2012, the Auditor General released his value for money audit of the OPP, recommending that the OPP to find greater efficiencies in its operations.  In fact, the report reiterated recommendations related to staff deployment and cost controls from previous audits of the OPP in 2005 that have not been acted on.

The Future of Policing Advisory Committee:  
Established in 2012 by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, this Committee will recommend changes to legislation/regulations, strategic direction and policy matters.  It represents the first time the Police Services Act and regulations on policing standards have been reviewed since the late 1990s.  The AMO Past President sits on the Future of Policing Advisory Committee.  While productive discussions are ongoing, AMO is disappointed with the slow progress of the Committee’s work.
      
2014 OPP Billing Reform and Wage Increase:
The provincial government is considering changes to how municipalities are billed for OPP services. Such a proposal may shift OPP costs and wage related increases across the municipal sector, which would have an immense negative impact on some communities.  At the same time, provincial transfers through the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund will decrease by $25 million in 2014, magnifying the impact of any OPP related changes.

Court Security Upload:
The Province continues to honour the 2008 Provincial-Municipal Fiscal and Service Delivery Review agreement, which includes the upload of Court Security and Prisoner Transportation costs.  In 2013, $35.7 million will be provided to municipalities to fund these services, rising to $125 million by 2018.