RCMP “on the brink” of collapse in Alberta: Report
Following news from the Management Advisory Board that the RCMP is “stretched thin”, Minister Ellis expressed his deep concerns, saying that it’s time for Alberta to have an independent provincial police agency to address the gaps left by Ottawa.

Keean Bexte

April 29, 2024

Alberta Minister of Public Safety Mike Ellis says the RCMP is ‘stretched thin’, ‘on the brink’ of collapse, and increasingly unable to keep Albertans safe.

RCMP “on the brink” of collapse in Alberta: Report

Following news from the Management Advisory Board that the federal police force is “stretched thin” in the province, Ellis expressed his deep concerns, saying that it’s time for Alberta to have an independent provincial police agency to address the gaps left by Ottawa.

“Ottawa is making Canadians and Albertans less safe through its failure to adequately support policing services. That’s why Alberta’s government is working on several fronts to enhance the current policing model to ensure it’s meeting the needs of our communities,” Ellis wrote in a statement.

“This includes introducing the Public Safety Statutes Amendment Act, 2024 to help augment provincial policing,” Ellis continued. “If passed, the tabled legislation will support policing efforts by enabling the creation of an independent police agency that would be able to carry out police-like functions currently performed by Alberta’s sheriffs.”

As I have said before, I do not care what the uniform is: When someone calls 911, I expect an officer to show up to that call in a timely manner.”

As Ellis notes, one of the most distressing points in the report is the extreme vacancy rates of the RCMP, with the provincial force currently missing 21.6% of its full capacity, leaving Albertans vulnerable and several communities critically understaffed and, thus, under-protected. This, he says, highlights the RCMP’s inability to recruit and retain members.

“As the minister responsible for public safety, I remain committed to working with the federal government, the RCMP, and local municipalities to address concerns about the future of contract policing. However, independent reports that identify the RCMP at a critical juncture and on the brink of not being able to perform their duties require the immediate attention of the federal government,” Ellis writes.

It is not the first time that Alberta’s ministers have pushed for a provincial police force

In 2021, the Alberta government began testing the waters for a provincial police force much more seriously, commissioning comprehensive financial reports on how feasible such a force would be compared to the RCMP.

One report, conducted by PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP (PwC) on behalf of the Alberta government, found that the proposed Alberta Provincial Police Service (APPS) was not only feasible as a replacement for the RCMP but possibly slightly cheaper.

In response to this, the RCMP union attempted to stifle the Alberta government’s efforts to establish its own provincial police force by trademarking several potential names.

Online trademark records from February 2021 revealed that the National Police Federation moved to trademark “Alberta Police Department,” “Alberta Provincial Police,” “Alberta Police Service,” and “Alberta Provincial Police Service” — all of which are the most obvious and descriptive potential names such a force would use.

National Police Service president Brian Sauvé said that this move was made because he did not believe Albertans wanted their own police service and were satisfied with the RCMP.

This belief is in opposition to a survey from 2021 that showed that 79 per cent of Calgary residents are in favour of local police forces, suggesting that many may favour a more province-centric service.

Similarly, a Nanos poll found that 46 per cent of Albertans were in favour of a provincial police force, while 39 per cent said they were somewhat opposed and would like to keep the RCMP, and 16 per cent said they were unsure.

Despite the many hiccups on the way, it now looks like Albertans will be getting what they want—albeit only because of the continued and prolonged failings of the federal government.

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