The National Police Federation (NPF) is urging voters to reject the idea of a provincial police transition and keep the Alberta RCMP.
According to the NPF, the transition to a provincial service would be far too costly for Alberta taxpayers, starting with $550 million in transition costs including the loss of the federal government contribution.
"The numbers we’re using to inform Albertans are the numbers that were included in the PwC report that Government released in October 2021, that the Province itself commissioned," said Kevin Halwa, Prairie Region Director for the NPF.
Halwa suggests that the current projected cost will be much higher due to the changing of the financial landscape.
"As everyone has seen over the course of the last few years, inflation is through the roof and household costs are going up by leaps and bounds," added Halwa. "Coming to that final number is like taking a shot in the dark while wearing a blindfold and being spun around 20 times – where it’ll land is anyone’s guess."
Halwa said that a homicide investigation could cost anywhere from $250,000 for a simple case to well over $1 million for a more complex case; and a new provincial police service would also require highly specialized ongoing training and equipment for services like major crimes investigations, emergency response teams, police dogs, air support, forensic identification, and many others.
He added that the Province's own reporting is also showing that the provincial service would cost a minimum of $164 million more each year to maintain and would only bring in about 56 police officers.
"For that same investment, if the Province wanted to, they could hire 600 RCMP officers right now without any sort of transition costs," said Halwa. "It's just poor bang for the buck to consider this transition."
Halwa thinks it could be different if there was overwhelming public support for a provincial service, but he doesn't believe that's the case.
"Public support for keeping the Mounties has been consistent at 84 per cent," said Halwa. "The support to replace the Mounties with a provincial police service has consistently remained very low, in the single digit numbers."
Those that do support the transition, Halwa claims, often mistakenly believe that a provincial service is needed to consolidate power away from the federal government and give it to the province.
"The Province already calls the shots," said Halwa. "In the provincial policing service agreement, it is very clear in article six that 'the Provincial Minister will set the objectives and priorities and goals for the police service' period."
As voters head to the polls on Monday (May 29), Halwa is urging them to keep this issue in mind, as it could impact their public safety and their pocket books for generations to come.
"I strongly encourage voters to research the political parties’ platforms and determine which of the parties are wanting to push this issue that will cost them hundreds of millions of dollars each year."