06/14/2013


This is a further update on the various reviews in progress in terms of policing services underway at the Province.

The last update was May 8. Costs of municipal policing in Ontario totals $3.76 billion (2011), of which $353 million represents the cost of municipal OPP contracted services.

OPP Survey of Municipalities on OPP Billing Reform – Member Response Strongly Encouraged (Please watch for the survey from the OPP and timelines for response)

Previously, AMO informed members that the OPP would begin consultations on proposed billing reforms.  The OPP has now finished seven regional consultations with 42 randomly selected municipalities and with the OPP Working Group, of which AMO and the Mayors’ Coalition are members.  The OPP is now going to prepare a follow-up consultation report with a survey to all 323 municipalities with OPP contract services. We understand that the affected municipalities will receive the material electronically very soon. 

AMO strongly encourages these OPP serviced municipal governments to give priority to responding to this material. The survey is an important opportunity for your municipality to make its voice heard on the proposed billing reforms which could have significant implications for all OPP policed municipalities, particularly in light of the wide range of current per household costs (from under $100 to over $600).

The Province is aiming to finalize OPP billing changes this fall.  In part, to inform the municipal budgeting process, yet it also coincides with the implementation of the OPP’s collective agreement salary increase beginning in 2014. It is critical for all affected municipalities to ensure the OPP and the government fully understands the impact that billing changes and the OPP salary increase (8.55%) will bring.  Decision-makers at the Province need to see and understand potential impacts and the relationship to municipal budgets and taxpayers.

Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) and Policing

There is also a planned $75 million reduction of the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF) over the next three years. The OMPF is the municipal operating grant framework that is meant to help municipal governments with limited fiscal capacity. The OMPF policing operating grant reductions, combined with 8.5% OPP salary increase, will affect many of the communities that can least afford it.  Municipal governments appreciate that collective agreements are legally binding. British Columbia’s provincial government ultimately lost a Supreme Court challenge when it attempted to override free collective bargaining and imposed its own contract terms for B.C. health care workers.  As we saw in recent Ontario teacher talks, any legislative attempt to undo the OPP contract would no doubt be met with a Charter challenge. While the Ministry of Finance consultations have begun on the OMPF, AMO continues to call on the government to, at a minimum delay the $25 million reduction for 2014, providing the necessary time to do a well-informed impact analysis of all the police related activities on municipal budgets, including OMPF. Neither the Province nor municipal governments can afford unintended consequences of rushed policy analysis.

Future of Policing Advisory Committee (FPAC)

The Future of Policing Advisory Committee (FPAC) continues to meet. This stakeholder advisory committee looks at policing activities and re-examines what is core policing and what is not.  It will recommend to the Ministry policing related changes to legislation, regulations and policy. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services is expected to be releasing an update on the Committee’s work shortly.

At the Committee, AMO has argued that municipal councils and citizens will evaluate the effectiveness of the Committee’s work and other venues of consultation on policing, by asking a simple question – what has been done to improve the efficiency and sustainability of policing in Ontario?

While a review of policing requires thoughtful consideration to arrive at lasting solutions, AMO presses for action in the more immediate term as but one mechanism to help manage policing costs whether OPP or own force, and any OPP billing shifts of the Ontario Municipal Partnership Fund (OMPF). This is a clear illustration of the urgency of municipal concerns regarding police and emergency service costs.

Summary:

Again, municipal governments with OPP service contracts are urged to respond to the consultation document and survey when it is received. AMO will continue to update members on all the policing related matters.