05/01/2012

The 2010 municipal expenditures to deliver policing services exceeded $3.5 billion across Ontario, which represents nearly 6% growth from the previous year. May 1, 2012.

Policing Update

The rising cost of police services is an issue which affects all municipalities in Ontario, whether it is their own force or OPP contracted services. Across Ontario, the 2010 municipal expenditures to deliver policing services exceeded $3.5 billion, which represents nearly 6% growth from the previous year- a pace nearly three times higher than the rate of inflation. Since 2001, these costs have grown by $1.5 billion. Bottom line --- these costs are 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.

Below are some examples of where AMO is involved on this issue:

The Future of Policing Summit

In early March AMO President Gary McNamara and Pat Vanini, Executive Director attended the Summit to represent municipal interests. This was the first provincial led summit on policing in 16 years. It brought together representatives from the broader Ontario policing community and speakers from other jurisdictions to examine some of the tough issues regarding the sustainability of policing services. The Summit mapped out some of the key challenges, shared objectives, and the need for further discussion and action.

The Future of Policing Advisory Committee

Last week the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services establishedthe Future of Policing Advisory Committee. It is designed to serve as forum to follow up on key issues and in particular, a review of core police services. AMO President Gary McNamara is AMO’s representative. Chaired by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, it includes representatives from the Ontario Association of Police Services Boards (OAPSB) and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP), among others involved in policing. This Committee will also oversee six different subcommittees which will review: crime prevention, law enforcement, assistance to victims of crime, public order maintenance, emergency response, and administration and infrastructure. The group’s first meeting will be held later this month.

OPP Costing Project Team

AMO staff and municipal officials have been meeting with the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services and the Ontario Provincial Police on a regular basis over the past several months. The team is dedicated to improving the transparency and accountability of municipal costs in communities policed by the OPP. It is an ongoing forum to improve mutual understanding and add further clarity for municipal leaders to understand the staff deployment model. An interim update on these issues is expected later this summer.

Court Security Upload

This year the Court Security and Prisoner Transportation upload commenced. It fulfills a key element of the 2008 Provincial-Municipal Fiscal and Service Delivery Review agreement and provides a seven-year provincial subsidy to offset municipal expenditures for providing security at provincial courts and transporting prisoners. In 2012, $17.8 million will offset municipal costs. That amount will rise to $35.7 million in 2013 and $125 million by 2018. AMO’s representatives to the discussions resulting in the allocations included municipal staff, the Ontario Association of Police Services Boards, and the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police.

Pensions

The government has said that it wants to see measures used to improve pension plan funding that do not add to employer or taxpayer expense. AMO will be providing input to the Ministry of Finance’s consultation process on how legislation can be drafted to help achieve these objectives. OMERS, of which municipal police forces are part, has seen contribution rate increases consistently. The 1% rate increase last year required roughly another $150 million from municipal property taxpayers. It also means that employees last year sent an additional $150 million to OMERS. The next rate increase is to be 0.9% for each in 2013. This is not affordable or sustainable. AMO and other employer representatives to OMERS have been trying year over year to negotiate benefit reductions, such as reducing indexation from 100% as one means of tackling the OMERS funding deficit.

These are just some examples of the ways in which AMO has been representing municipal interests regarding the rising cost of municipal policing. AMO will continue to pursue this issue in conjunction with other policy objectives. Without change, the ability to fund other core services will continue to shrink.

The development of solutions to improve the sustainability of policing services will involve a broad range of stakeholders and ideas. It will also require an ongoing and constructive intergovernmental dialogue to which AMO is committed.