Alberta government pitching that small rural areas pay for policing: NDP

Those 291 districts represent about 20 per cent of the Alberta population

Alberta government pitching that small rural areas pay for policing: NDP

Alberta’s Opposition says the government is proposing to small municipalities and rural areas that they begin to pay for some, or maybe most, of their policing costs.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley says in some cases municipalities are being told they may have to pay up to 70 per cent, which would average out to $406 per resident a year.

Notley says the details are in a transcript released by her caucus of a webinar broadcast earlier this month by Justice Department staff to municipal officials.

Notley says the proposal flies in the face of a government that won last spring’s election in part on a promise to be there for rural residents dealing with crime.

Small municipalities under 5,000 residents and other rural districts have their policing costs covered entirely by the province at a cost of almost $233 million a year.

Those 291 districts represent about 20 per cent of the Alberta population.

In the webinar transcript, officials say they want to move to a model in which districts would pay between 15 and 70 per cent of the cost. They don’t say why they want to change the formula or where the savings would go.

Notley said Premier Jason Kenney has broken faith with rural Albertans.

“It would seem that for all the bluster and promises made by this premier about taking the task of fighting crime seriously, he actually left out one important detail in the last election. And that is that rural Albertans will have to pay significantly more in order to ensure that they have safety in their communities,” Notley told a news conference Wednesday.

“(And) in return for paying this brand new bill, they will see no improvement in services, no additional boots on the ground.”

Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer, who is touring the province listening to concerns on rural crime, was not made available for an interview and instead issued a three-line statement.

“The assertions made by the fearmongering NDP are ridiculous and unfounded and once again demonstrate the NDP’s complete lack of financial literacy,” he said.

“Our government made a commitment to Albertans to consult on the police funding model that became broken under the NDP. We are investing more in policing, not less.”

Schweitzer’s statement did not address the NDP’s specific concerns, nor did it say whether his department is indeed seeking to have rural municipalities pay some of their policing costs and, if so, how much.

Kenney has said that the government needs to find savings to end the multibillon-dollar budget deficit in four years.

He campaigned on a platform to reduce rural crime, promised to hire more prosecutors and recommended that crimes in rural areas be considered an aggravating factor in sentencing.

While still in government, Notley’s NDP brought in a $10-million rural crime strategy that included streamlining and hiring more police and prosecutors.

The 2018-19 Justice Department’s annual report says that led to reduced car thefts and break and enters and a nine per cent drop in rural property crime.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

SARS-CoV-2 virus particles, which causes COVID-19, emerge from the surface of cells isolated from a patient in the U.S. and cultured in a lab in a 2020 electron microscope image. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-HO, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases - Rocky Mountain Laboratories
Alberta now has 17,743 active cases of COVID-19

Province now has 17,743 active cases

File Photo
Sylvan Lake Community Christmas Eve Dinner cancelled

The 20th anniversary of the Community Christmas Eve dinner is cancelled amidst COVID-19 concerns

The consensus around the Sylvan Lake council chamber Wednesday was the town does not have the ability to properly enforce a proposed mandatory indoor mask bylaw. File Photo
Sylvan Lake town council squashes mask bylaw

The bylaw did not make it past first reading, after a 4-3 vote defeated the motion

Sylvan Lake RCMP are looking for the identity of the suspect who stole from over 40 resident mail boxes. (Photo Courtesy of Sylvan Lake RCMP)
Over 40 mailboxes broken into at Sylvan Lake apartment building

Sylvan Lake RCMP are investigating the incident and searching for the identity of the suspect

Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps poses for a photo with his parents Amanda Sully and Adam Deschamps in this undated handout photo. Ten-month-old Aidan Deschamps was the first baby in Canada to be diagnosed with spinal muscular atrophy through Ontario’s newborn screening program. The test was added to the program six days before he was born. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO, Children’s Hospital Eastern Ontario *MANDATORY CREDIT*
First newborn tested for spinal muscular atrophy in Canada hits new milestones

‘If Aidan had been born any earlier or anywhere else our story would be quite different’

People line up at a COVID-19 assessment centre during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Wednesday, December 2, 2020. Toronto and Peel region continue to be in lockdown. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
COVID-19 vaccine approval could be days away as pressures mount on health-care system

Many health officials in regions across the country have reported increasing pressures on hospitals

A logo for Netflix on a remote control is seen in Portland, Ore.,Aug. 13, 2020. Experts in taxation and media say a plan announced Monday by the government will ultimately add to the cost of digital services and goods sold by foreign companies. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP-Jenny Kane
‘Netflix tax’ for digital media likely to raise prices for consumers, experts say

The government says Canadian companies already collect those taxes when they make digital sales

Gaming content was big on YouTube in 2020. (Black Press Media files)
What did Canadians watch on Youtube during isolation? Workouts, bird feeders

Whether it was getting fit or ‘speaking moistly,’ Canadians had time to spare this year

A teacher places the finishing touches on the welcome sign at Hunter’s Glen Junior Public School which is part of the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) during the COVID-19 pandemic in Scarborough, Ont., on Sept. 14, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Hindsight 2020: How do you preserve a year many Canadians would rather forget?

Figuring out how to preserve the story of the pandemic poses a series of challenges

Team Manitoba celebrate after defeating Team Ontario to win the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in Moose Jaw, Sask., Sunday, Feb. 23, 2020. Curling Canada wants Calgary’s Canada Olympic Park to be a curling hub for the season’s top events. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Calgary facility set to become curling hub during pandemic

Curling Canada has provisional approval for Calgary’s hub-city concept from Alberta Health

Ash and Lisa Van carry a freshly cut Christmas tree while wearing personal protective masks at a Christmas Tree Farm in Egbert, Ontario, Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 THE CANADIAN PRESS/ Cole Burston
‘Everyone wants a tree and they want it now’: Christmas tree sales on pace for record

Anticipated demand for Christmas trees has sparked a rush by some to purchase more trees wholesale

Most Read