Alberta municipalities saddled with $60M in RCMP backpay
Alberta municipalities are frustrated over having to cover the cost of a new RCMP collective agreement, which includes six years of backpay.
The deal was negotiated by the federal government and the RCMP union, which is retroactive to April 1, 2017.
The Canadian government has told municipalities around the country they are required to foot the bill. Alberta municipalities are to pay $60 million.
“Wetaskiwin will be on the hook for about $800,000, but we’re a city of just under 13,000 (residents),” Wetaskiwin Mayor Tyler Gandam said.
“St. Albert’s looking at probably over $3 million and Red Deer is looking at $6 million, so it’s a huge amount of money for municipalities across the province and across the country.”
Gandam said he does not have an issue with the pay increase for RCMP members — he does, however, take issue with communities who contract the RCMP for its services being left with the bill and the way the negotiation was handled.
“With no consultation with any of the municipalities who are going to be affected by this new contract and then to be saddled with a bill to cover those costs or those retro payback to 2017 is really unfair,” Gandam said.
The Federation of Canadian Municipalities said Ottawa has put municipalities in a difficult position, especially because they can not run a deficit.
“Municipalities have limited resources for revenue generation, so they’re going to be faced with some pretty hard decisions on cutting critical services or passing the bill on to the taxpaying public,” Federation of Canadian Municipalities vice-president Geoff Stewart said.
Read more: B.C. cities on hook for millions in back pay to RCMP members warn of major budget impacts
Gandam said the bill has been put him in a no-win situation.
“Whether we implement a one-time levy for our taxpayers to cover that $800,000 or we pull from reserves.
“Either way, that’s money that’s not being spent in the communities.”
Alberta municipalities want the federal government to reconsider and cover the cost.
“Federation of Canadian Municipalities will also be working on that, and they’ve been a huge advocate for us on our behalf working with the federal government,” Gandam said.
“We also have locally, or in Alberta, the Rural Municipalities of Alberta and then other associations across the country that’ll be working to try to get those costs absorbed.”
If not, municipalities have two years to pay for the cost of the RCMP pay raise. The federal government was not available for comment at time of publication.
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