The cuts affect the “provincial business line,” — the RCMP budget in B.C. that covers the cost of 2,600 Mounties in small detachments across the province as well as some of the funding for integrated units like IHIT and CFSEU.
The RCMP is cutting more than $10 million from its provincial policing costs, which include small rural detachments, and some of the funding for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team and the anti-gang Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.
RCMP Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan sent out an email last week stating that due to a deficit, cuts to overtime, travel budgets and other discretionary expenses would have to be made immediately.
Strachan said in the email, a copy of which was obtained by Postmedia, that provincial policing costs “exceeded our spending authority” last year and “we are forecasting a similar situation this fiscal year.”
“As you are aware we are not permitted to run a deficit budget, simply put, we can’t spend more than we are given. Individual budgets may appear to have available funds, however, cumulatively, we do not have enough funds,” she said.
The cut only affects the “provincial business line,” — the RCMP budget in B.C. that covers the cost of 2,600 Mounties in small detachments across the province as well as some of the funding for integrated units like IHIT and CFSEU.
Municipal policing agreements like those in Surrey and Burnaby are funded 90 per cent by the municipalities and 10 per cent by the federal government and are not impacted. Nor is the Federal Serious and Organized Crime section, which is completed financed by money from Ottawa.
The total provincial policing budget in B.C. is more than $450 million.
Strachan said the cost-cutting measures “will assist in addressing a portion of our deficit. However it will not cover the entire deficit.”
“We are continuing to work with our partners in the provincial government to address the issue of the pressures, make sure that the (provincial budget line) is sufficiently funded, and reducing or eliminating areas that do not support the provincial policing services they want us to provide.”
“I fully recognize that these measures will have a negative impact on our employees and they may potentially affect operations, but regrettably they must be made to ensure we remain within our allotted budget.”
Some front-line officers told Postmedia they are concerned the cuts to overtime and travel may impact on-going or future investigations.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth was not available for an interview Wednesday about the cuts.
But his office issued a statement saying “to be clear, the projected deficit has been communicated to government by the RCMP. Budgetary constraints and inflationary impacts have been managed by the RCMP for a number of years through various financial management controls.”
“The impacts are now becoming increasingly difficult for RCMP to manage and we are working with them to address the pressure and to find solutions that do not affect public safety. This has not impacted significant and continued provincial and federal investments into gangs and organized crime initiatives and prevention.”
Both the federal and provincial government have committed targeted funding for programs to stem gang and gun violence in B.C. that won’t be impacted by the cuts, Farnworth said in his statement.
The RCMP did not respond to a request for additional information about Strachan’s email and the proposed cuts.
Strachan also said in the email that she wants supervisors and managers to “lead by example” by cutting out conferences and committee meetings.
“We will pursue alternative ways to fulfil our objectives related to these initiatives while being mindful of the financial pressure we are facing,” she said.
Other targets of the cuts include non-mandatory courses and equipment.
“There is a continued freeze on all discretionary PBL expenditures. This will include travel, overtime and equipment. Discretionary will be considered any items that can be postponed to a future year or items that are non-critical to operations,” Strachan said.
“These spending reduction measures are not a reflection of the incredible work that is being done in communities cross British Columbia, rather they are a consequence that we have not had a substantive increase to our budget that corresponds with the rising cost of policing. We are also not alone as a number of other provinces are experiencing similar challenges.”