By Jake Cardinal, Local Journalism Initiative
(ANNews) – According to a report released last month, the Alberta Government could potentially replace the RCMP with a provincial police force that would cost Albertans hundreds of millions of dollars more each year.
The Fair Deal Panel report came from consultation with tens of thousands of Albertans through in-person town hall meetings, an online survey, and stakeholder meetings.
The final report was submitted to the Alberta Government in May 2020 and explored fairer allocations of federal funding, better representation in the House of Commons, the creation of a provincial Pension Plan, and the implementation of an Alberta Police Force Service (APPS).
The report states that a provincial police force could potentially provide better service to Albertans, increase the number of frontline officers and civilian specialists — including mental health nurses and social workers — and lead to less transfer of officers in or out of communities.
Transitioning from the RCMP to a provincial police force will cost the Alberta Government upwards of $200 million more annually, says the report.
The change is also expected to cost at least $366 million and may take up to six years to complete.
The current model predicts that the transition could increase the amount of active police officers from 4,030 to 4,189 — or a 3.8 per cent increase.
However, the report failed to provide the Alberta government a recommendation on how to move forward.
Justice Minister Kaycee Madu said of the transition, “At the end of the day, I am confident that it would be at the same amount or lower than what we currently spend on RCMP, but as a province, we do have a responsibility beyond the monetary implications to defend and pursue our province’s best interests.”
“And while the challenges are not insignificant, we believe that a made-in Alberta provincial police service is worth serious consideration.”
Madu also stated that the APPS would be more inclusive of, and responsive to, Indigenous communities.
However, what this means is unclear as First Nation reservations within the province are under the jurisdiction of the RCMP, according to the Crown.
On November 2, The Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations released a scathing response to the report’s release.
“The whole report was commissioned and paid for by the United Conservative Party (UCP) without any discussion with First Nations in Alberta,” said Grand Chief Greg Desjarlais of the Confederacy. “When the study was announced last year, the Chiefs questioned the role of the report and its relationship to First Nations.
“If there is going to be a different police force, the Confederacy of Treaty Six First Nations want to re-establish our own fully equipped Treaty Six Force that will work with the Nations within Treaty Six Territory.”
“Our Chiefs have already rejected the roll out of RAPID (Rural Alberta Provincial Integrated Defence). Our Chiefs will not allow Sheriffs, Commercial Vehicle Enforcement and Fish and Wildlife officers to come onto our federal reserved lands and that includes an Alberta Provincial Police Enforcement,” said the Grand Chief.
The Alberta government has yet to make a decision regarding the possible transition, with Minister Madu claiming that his department will consult First Nations, rural communities, crime watch groups, victims services, and others before any decisions are made.