An Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) driven consultation has begun via seven regional forums with 74 randomly selected OPP contracted and OPP non-contracted municipalities.

The forums in Northwestern Ontario have been completed with sessions in Northeastern, Central, Eastern and Southwestern Ontario to occur shortly.  At the completion of these regional sessions later in May, a report of what the OPP heard will be consolidated and then sent out to all 323 OPP-serviced municipalities for further comment and validation.

The OPP consultation is about the reform of the method it uses to bill municipalities for its policing services.  The OPP is seeking direct feedback on municipal views of the current billing method and to find out what is important to municipal governments in the development of future billing options.  This municipal consultation will help to inform changes to the OPP billing method that will be presented to the provincial government for decision.  Anticipated timing is that any change would be made this fall.  There is a broad understanding that the current OPP billing system, which has developed over time, is not equitable among municipal governments.

This billing reform initiative is specifically scoped on how to bill municipalities for OPP services going forward.  It is not designed to explore or address the underlying OPP service cost drivers.  However, there is recognition of the complex linkages between this billing initiative to the continuing municipal call for reduction of overall policing costs, the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) and the work of the Future of Policing Advisory Committee (FPAC) that is looking at core and non-core functions and ways to impact costs.

There is a wide variation and lack of transparency of OPP costs to the municipalities they serve.  OPP costs can vary widely between municipalities within the same detachment or among municipalities with similar populations.  Also, municipalities that are considered "hub" communities (e.g. serve as regional centres), experience higher policing costs than same-sized non-hub municipalities. This has been of great concern to those municipalities paying higher than average per household costs for their OPP services.  The 2011 per household costs for OPP services can range from under a $100 to well over $600.

Bringing greater transparency and clear communication of what is in OPP billing to municipalities, was in part addressed through the 2012 publication Understanding Municipal Policing Cost  developed by an AMO, OPP and Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services working group.  Although it provided a detailed inventory as to all the cost variables that go into municipal OPP billing, it was not able to address the OPP deployment model, the calls for service/response standards or other factors that determine the municipal policing costs.

In April, the OPP Municipal Policing Bureau established a Municipal Policing Working Group with municipal representatives.  It has the following objectives:
  • To provide a forum for the OPP to discuss and provide strategic advice on opportunities to enhance efficiency and effectiveness of OPP municipal police services.
  • To provide an opportunity for stakeholders early input into its policy development process and ensure that proposed policy initiatives are relevant, timely and, ultimately, successful.
  • To solicit diverse perspectives on municipal policing and new ideas to strengthen the efficiency and effectiveness of municipal police services.

The Working Group is also composed of: OPP representatives, municipal representatives (Mayors and CAOs from contract and non-contract OPP-policed municipalities), AMO, Ontario Association of Police Services Board (OAPSB) staff and provincial government staff.  Although the current focus of the OPP working group is on this billing initiative, other expected future issues to be discussed are civilian governance, future legislation and opportunities for more efficient and effective OPP municipal police services.

This week, OPP Municipal Policing Bureau Commander, Superintendent Rick Philbin, sent a letter to all 323 OPP-serviced municipalities with respect to the 2014 projected salary increase of 8.55%.  The letter is attached.  The salary increase is part of the collective agreement, started in January 2011 and to end in December 2014.  The terms of the agreement called for an increase of 5% in 2011, followed by a two year wage freeze and top up commitment for 2014.  It should be understood that the only possible way to undo such collective agreement increases would be by provincial legislation which would draw legal and policy challenges.

Additionally, on May 6th, OPP Commissioner Chris Lewis released a video statement on the complex issues surrounding the costs of municipal policing.

AMO will continue to update members on progress and any additional emerging issues related to municipal policing costs. 

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