FORT ST. JOHN, B.C. – The Federation of Canadian Municipalities is calling on the federal government to cover the costs of its new collective bargaining agreement with the National Police Federation (which represents RCMP officers across the country). Otherwise, municipalities across Canada—including Fort St. John—will face covering the increases themselves.
At this point, Fort St. John may pay $1.2 million for retroactive pay and in the ballpark of $600,000 in salary adjustments—though this number can “vary wildly” depending on a variety of factors—for policing next year, according to city staff.
“It’s important to note that the FCM is currently working with the federal government on that retroactive pay,” Ryan Harvey, communications coordinator for the City of Fort St. John, said. “They’re still working on that together, and obviously, we’re hoping for a better resolution.”
The National Police Federation represents 20,000 RCMP officers across the country. It signed the agreement with the federal government in August 2021.
The FCM is calling for the federal government to absorb the costs of the agreement, which it says exceed what municipalities were told to expect and to consult with municipalities on issues that affect local fiscal sustainability and maintaining policing levels.
Municipalities themselves, though, have these conversations with provincial governments.
Fort St. John’s mayor, Lori Ackerman, says that the city is prepared to handle both the retroactive pay and the salary increase and that conversations about policing costs, at the local level, happen between provincial ministers and municipal leadership.
“Our conversation would only be with the provincial government,” the mayor said.
The new collective bargaining agreement covers a six-year period that began on April 1st, 2017, according to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities.
The agreement includes a salary bump of 1.75 per cent per year and market adjustments (to ensure RCMP officer salaries compare to other police services) that result in an increase of 11.53 per cent over the period of the agreement.
Retroactive pay, going back to 2017, adds to these increases, and the total result is a 23.7 per cent increase over six years.
Previous estimates, the federation says, suggested municipalities prepare for a 2.5 per cent increase per year (or cumulatively, 15 per cent over six years), resulting in higher costs than municipalities were told to prepare for.
Other municipalities that use the RCMP to police their communities told the FCM they expect increases from several hundred thousand to several million per city, depending on its size and, by extension, the size and scope of the policing the mounties do in the centre.
Prince George expects a $6.5 million increase in policing from the new agreement.
Red Deer expects a one-time cost of $5.37 million to cover retroactive pay and an additional $690,000 increase in future budgets.
The collective agreement between the NPF and the federal government was the result of 23 months of bargaining and is the first of its kind in Canada.