June 16, 2023
Edmonton, AB – Below is a Letter to the Editor from by Jeff McGowan and Kevin Halwa, National Police Federation Prairie Region Directors, in response to commentary about the role and future of the RCMP by former St. Albert mayor Nolan Rouse:
“In his June 15 commentary, former St. Albert mayor Nolan Rouse rightly states that that the RCMP played an iconic role in helping to shape Canada’s strong reputation in policing over the past 150 years, and that AbMunis (and the RMA) have publicly opposed the creation of a new Alberta provincial police service.
As the union representing 3,500 Alberta RCMP Members and nearly 20,000 across Canada and internationally, we noticed some incorrect key facts and figures.
For starters, recruitment is an issue faced by police services across Canada, not just the RCMP. Fortunately, the RCMP is seeing gains in recruitment. In early 2023, the NPF and the RCMP agreed to recognize experienced police officers from federal, provincial, territorial, municipal, Indigenous, and military policing. The Experienced Police Officer program now smooths the path to joining the RCMP by recognizing years of service from previous agencies.
With increased capacity at Depot and the ability to confirm your province of deployment before graduating, recruitment continues to improve. We are confident that the RCMP can staff, train, and retain officers to ensure public safety in Alberta and beyond.
Albertans – residents of St. Albert included – strongly support the RCMP. Multiple waves of research conducted by Pollara Strategic Insights confirm 84% want to keep the RCMP with improvements while only 9% support a provincial police service. The NPF welcomes discussions on improving policing, but a wholesale – and costly – change will not improve public safety.
In 2021, the Province estimated that replacing the RCMP would cost taxpayers $550+ million, plus start-up costs and a forfeit of $185+ million in federal contributions. Two years later, inflation and increased costs have driven that estimate higher. The Province’s own report shows that a new police service will also cost Albertans $164 million more each year to operate, with only 56 more police officers. For that same investment, Alberta could add more than 600 RCMP officers, which is a much better value.
Money earmarked for a transition would also be far better spent on Albertan’s real priorities, like growing the economy, supporting public services, and keeping taxes low, whether you live in St. Albert or elsewhere in the province.
Lastly, Alberta’s RCMP are already proudly accountable to Albertans. Alberta’s provincial leaders set the agenda for public safety in Alberta, and amendments to the Alberta Police Act create formal governance bodies for all RCMP-served communities, ensuring municipalities have a say in setting policing priorities and performance goals – which former mayor Rouse would have directly participated in.
Alberta’s RCMP proudly serve our communities – from St. Albert to Slave Lake and everywhere in between. They have been serving as Alberta’s provincial police service for over 90 years and will continue to do so for years to come.”
Jeff McGowan and Kevin Halwa, Prairie Region Directors, National Police Federation
About the National Police Federation:
The National Police Federation (NPF) represents ~20,000 RCMP Members serving across Canada and internationally. It is the largest police labour relations organization in Canada and second largest in North America. We are focused on improving public safety in Canada for our Members and all Canadians by advocating for investment in policing and other related supports and services. This includes calling for required resourcing, equipment, and supports to enhance community safety and livability in the communities we serve, large and small, across Canada.
Fabrice de Dongo
Manager, Media Relations
Coordinator, Media Relations