Thank you, Mr. Chair.
In terms of the Canadian policing context, the Minister of Public Safety is mandated to provide leadership for public safety and policing in Canada. The minister also provides direction and is accountable to Parliament for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Provincial governments have the primary responsibility for policing in Canada, based on the “administration of justice” authority in the Constitution Act. To a considerable degree, from an operational perspective, that responsibility has been delegated to municipalities, who provide the majority of policing services in Canada.
All governments in Canada are increasingly engaged on the issue of the economics of policing. They are striving to address rising police costs and public expectations for police services to deal with a wide range of criminal and non-criminal issues—for example, addiction and mental health incidents—at a time of fiscal restraint.
In addition, police associations such as the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, the Canadian Police Association, representing front-line officers, and the Canadian Association of Police Boards are not only engaged on this issue but also providing leadership.
Most importantly, police services themselves are striving to improve their efficiency and effectiveness as well as to assess and implement new models of community safety.
Finally, efforts are also under way to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the broader justice system, as that has a direct impact on policing costs.
It is only through such broad-based engagement that Canada can address the economics of policing, build a momentum of reform and innovation, and sustain Canada's policing advantage.
Although the Government of Canada is but one of the many partners on this issue, the Minister of Public Safety has been providing strong leadership. The minister introduced the issue of the economics of policing at the most recent meeting of federal, provincial, and territorial ministers of justice and public safety in Charlottetown in January 2012. At that meeting, a presentation on the economics of policing outlined a number of general facts and considerations. These include the following:
Overall we are witnessing increasing demands on police, both criminal and non-criminal, combined with decreasing reported crime rates. At the same time, spending on police has been increasing steadily, more than doubling since 1997 to over $12 billion annually. In policing, performance measures are not well developed or widely applied. As a result, there is limited clarity as to the efficiency and effectiveness of police spending. Also, there are not always sufficient modern management skills in some police services, and there is limited expertise to help police services reform. Finally, the public as well as some police leaders, boards, and unions may resist change.
More specifically, the presentation in Charlottetown to ministers also focused on the costs of policing. There are a variety of cost drivers in policing. These cost drivers range from fuel to compensation to new crimes to procedural requirements, to name just a few. Salaries and benefits typically make up 80% to 90% of police service budgets. Therefore, human resources and their management are key aspects of policing efficiency and effectiveness.
As you know, policing is a complex and difficult job, for which officers should be fairly and competitively paid. The fact is that the increasing costs of policing have been driven in part by significant growth in police officers' salaries. We have witnessed a 40% increase in police officers' salaries over the last decade, which outpaces the Canadian average of 11%. Much of this is a result of the ratcheting up of salaries through collective bargaining with first responders, a concern for many cash-strapped jurisdictions.
There are other factors driving increasing police costs. New priorities and new types of crime have emerged, such as financial and commercial crime, Internet-based crime, the globalization of organized crime, and a heightened focus on national security and terrorism threats, which have expanded the focus of police work.
In terms of procedures, police work has become more time-consuming and complicated. There are numerous examples of changes that have made police work take longer than it did in the past. These include the time required to prepare a warrant, to process a driving-under-the-influence charge, and to gather documents for disclosure, to name just a few. This has a direct impact on the costs of policing and highlights the importance of ensuring that all of the requirements imposed on police by the justice system are carefully reviewed and well founded.
Canada is not alone in facing these cost challenges. Other comparable countries are facing similar cost increases. Some countries, including the United States and the United Kingdom, are taking aggressive and often blunt measures to address rising police costs. There are many examples of these types of measures.
In the U.S., Los Angeles Police eliminated 600 civilian staff in one year. Phoenix Police stopped recruitment and held 400 positions vacant. Newark Police laid off 170 sworn officers and 210 civilians and demoted 110 officers. Illinois State Police cut more than 20% of their sworn officer personnel.
Those are but a few of the many examples throughout the United States. The U.K. is targeting cuts of 14% to national policing expenditures by 2014-15, which is expected to result in a reduction of more than 16,000 officers, or 11% of total officers.
In contrast, the federal government is taking measured actions to address those areas for policing for which it is directly responsible. The government's deficit reduction action plan outlined in the 2012 budget included a reduction in RCMP funding of $195 million annually by 2014-15. The RCMP is implementing this plan through administrative and operational support efficiencies. No cuts to front-line policing are expected. In addition, the new 20-year RCMP police service agreements that were recently signed with contract jurisdictions include cost containment as a key objective. Reviews are already under way in specific areas in support of that objective.
As this approach suggests, an important goal is to address rising police costs in Canada in a planned and well-considered way that avoids some of the drastic responses applied in the U.S. that have caused considerable dismay among police officers and the communities they serve. In that vein, most Canadian police services, if they act soon, have the opportunity to assess their current levels of efficiency and effectiveness and respond with well-considered strategies rather than have blunt core cuts forced upon them by fiscal necessity. In fact, incremental measures to improve efficiency and effectiveness in policing are under way in some jurisdictions, but to varying degrees. These measures include defining and focusing on core police services, increased use of civilian staff, cost recovery for certain services, and the use of technology.
More fundamentally, new and innovative approaches to policing and community safety have also emerged. One example of this is the hub model employed in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan, which is aimed at addressing the root causes of crime in the community. The hub brings together different municipal agencies to identify at-risk youth, share information, and implement proactive strategies. This model is based largely on experiences in the U.K., and has already produced some compelling results in terms of significant decreases in certain types of crime in Prince Albert.
After the presentation in Charlottetown, federal, provincial, and territorial ministers agreed on the following two next steps with respect to the economics of policing: first, to share information among jurisdictions and police services on policies and practices that have improved the efficiency and effectiveness of policing; and second, to convene a national summit on the economics of policing.
Going forward, we have established a FPT working group on the economics of policing to share information among jurisdictions and police services on policies and practices that have improved the efficiency and effectiveness of policing so that we can all learn from one another.
Public Safety Canada is leading the planning for the summit on the economics of policing in conjunction with provincial and territorial colleagues. The objectives of the summit are to increase awareness of the issue of the economics of policing and grow the foundation for reform and innovation by governments, judiciary, and police services; to provide practical information on improving efficiency and effectiveness, and new models of community safety; and to get ahead of the issue and continue the momentum of reform and innovation, and sustain Canada's policing advantage. These goals can only be realized through inclusion and the constructive engagement of everyone involved in policing.
In fact, this summit will build on the dialogue that is already under way as a result of the government's and association's efforts, as well as the actions of key policing stakeholders, such as the Canadian Police College and the Police Sector Council. The agenda for the summit is being developed, and input from this committee would be welcome.
The summit is planned for mid-January in Ottawa. The agenda would be oriented around the following three pillars: efficiencies within police services, new models of community safety, and efficiencies within the justice system. The summit will be hosted by Public Safety Canada, with support and participation from all policing stakeholders. A wide variety of speakers will be invited to the summit, including police officers and chiefs, police civilian staff, ministers and other elected officials, government policing officials, association representatives, and academics from Canada and elsewhere, particularly the U.S. and the U.K.
It is important to note, however, that as we advance this issue, we will need to broaden the dialogue with non-police stakeholders in order to develop a whole system approach, as other sectors can have a direct impact on policing costs. An example of this is the mental health care sector. Developments in that sector can have significant impacts on policing in terms of the number of calls for service, police operations, and police training.
That concludes my opening remarks.
I welcome the committee's interest and engagement on this issue. The committee's input on some of the big questions, such as the future of policing and defining core policing, could be very helpful, as would your views on containing costs, facilitating change, and innovation in policing. Your engagement will contribute to the dialogue that is under way and strengthen the momentum of reform necessary to sustain Canada's policing advantage.
I'd be very pleased to answer any questions.