Evidence of meeting #45 for Public Safety and National Security in the 41st Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was services.

A recording is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

  • Mark Potter  Director General, Policing Policy Directorate, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
  • Shawn Tupper  Assistant Deputy Minister, Community Safety and Partnerships Branch, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness
  • Commissioner Steve Graham  Deputy Commissoner, East Region, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

4:45 p.m.


The Chair Kevin Sorenson

Good afternoon, everyone. This is meeting number 45 of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. It is Thursday, June 7, 2012.

This afternoon we are commencing our committee's study of the economics of policing. We have agreed to conduct a study into all aspects of the economics of policing, by speaking to federal, aboriginal, provincial, territorial, and municipal police forces in all areas of enforcement, with a focus on improving the efficiency and effectiveness of law enforcement.

Our first witnesses are from the Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness. This afternoon—and I thank Mr. Graham, deputy commissioner of the RCMP, for allowing it—we are going to combine the RCMP and the Department of Public Safety.

I need to apologize. We are in votes. The last couple of weeks in Parliament here before the summer break are usually a little wild. That's kind of been the case with unexpected votes. That being said, unfortunately, because of timelines, we still must conclude today's meeting at 5:30. Our intent is not to go beyond 5:30.

We want to hear you and have each of you give your opening statements, and we want to have some questioning. I may adjust the time on some of the questions. We would also ask and reserve the right to invite you back sometime. This is an important study we're commencing, and we wanted to hear from you folks first.

We have Mr. Shawn Tupper, who is the assistant deputy minister of the community safety and partnerships branch. Mr. Mark Potter is the director general for the policing policy directorate. Also, we have Deputy Commissioner Steve Graham, of the east region.

I think there will be only two opening statements, perhaps from Mr. Tupper and Mr. Potter. We look forward to those comments.

Mr. Potter.

4:45 p.m.

Mark Potter Director General, Policing Policy Directorate, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. It's great to be here today to talk to you about the important topic of the economics of policing.

The economics of policing is about the evolution and sustainability of policing. It is a wide-ranging issue that involves police services and boards, governments, the judiciary, private security, academia, other stakeholders, and all Canadians. It is both a challenge and an opportunity for Canada and many other countries.

In terms of the Canadian—

4:45 p.m.


The Chair Kevin Sorenson

Just one moment. I have a point of order.

4:45 p.m.


Rick Norlock Northumberland—Quinte West, ON

On a point of order, Mr. Chair, I know the information that's being provided to us by the witnesses is very important, but we do have it in printed form. We are very capable.... Perhaps we could ask the witnesses for a précis not to exceed, let's say, seven or eight minutes. We have their speeches. We could formulate our questions to the witnesses and therefore have more questions than statement. That would be my submission, based on agreement from the other side.

4:50 p.m.


The Chair Kevin Sorenson

I hesitate to have them cut back their statements, because it does get right in....

You're correct, we do have the written statements. Would you prefer...?

It looks as though we would prefer to hear from you, so please continue, Mr. Potter.

4:50 p.m.

Director General, Policing Policy Directorate, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mark Potter

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.

Thank you.

5 p.m.


The Chair Kevin Sorenson

Thank you very much, Mr. Potter.

We'll move quickly to Mr. Tupper, please.

5 p.m.

Shawn Tupper Assistant Deputy Minister, Community Safety and Partnerships Branch, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Thank you, Mr. Chairman.

All of my comments are simply add-ons to Mr. Potter's. I will focus on matters related to aboriginal people.

My branch is responsible for the management of the First Nations Policing Program which provides funding towards policing services that are professionally dedicated and culturally responsive to the First Nation and Inuit communities they serve.

Financial contributions under the program are shared with provinces and territories. The federal government contributes 52% of costs, and the provinces or the territories contribute 48% of costs. Currently, the First Nations Policing Program provides funding for policing services for almost 400 first nation and Inuit communities in Canada.

Since the program's inception in 1991, it has promoted a consistent and standards-based approach to policing in first nation and Inuit communities. It is a recognition that making progress on improving conditions in aboriginal communities requires the involvement of all parties with a vested interest in achieving better outcomes—namely, the federal government, provincial and territorial governments, and first nation and Inuit communities.

At the community level, there are examples that show the program is making a difference. In Hobbema, Alberta, the dedicated presence of additional RCMP officers under the FNPP has helped to reduce crime, increase personal safety, and raise the level of trust between the community and the police. In the Elsipogtog First Nation in New Brunswick, RCMP officers funded under the program work closely with other areas of the community, including the health centre, victim services, and youth initiatives, to provide an integrated approach to community-based policing.

Despite these successes, first nation and Inuit communities continue to face particular public safety challenges, including higher crime rates, poor socio-economic conditions, and a growing youth population. These factors underscore the need for effective, sustainable police services.

As my colleague noted in his opening remarks, the economics of policing represent both a challenge and an opportunity. This is equally true for policing services provided to first nation and Inuit communities.

First nation and Inuit police services are no different from other police services in Canada, in that they provide professional police services consistent with provincial police legislation. As a result, they experience the same cost pressures that all Canadian police services are experiencing, such as increasing costs for salaries and benefits.

In addition, first nation and Inuit police services face unique circumstances that contribute to the rising costs of policing. The difficulties in recruiting police officers to work in remote areas have resulted in significant costs associated with overtime for some police services. First nations located near urban centres are vulnerable to gang-related and illegal drug activity due to the degree of mobility between urban centres and nearby reserves. Prisoner transportation costs are high. Some first nation and Inuit communities lack detention facilities, so prisoners must be transported to nearby detachments. Fuel costs continue to rise, particularly for police services serving remote communities. The cost of operating and maintaining detachments and equipment in remote first nation communities has increased. This is due in part to the shorter winter road season, which requires more goods to be flown into communities. Finally, police officers must travel in order to undertake requalification and other training, as training is often not provided locally. There are also costs associated with backfilling for officers who are away on training.

However, the economics of policing discussion also presents an opportunity for first nations police services. A recent program evaluation of the First Nations Policing Program recommended that Public Safety Canada assess whether the objectives of the First Nations Policing Program could be achieved more effectively and efficiently through innovative service delivery approaches. To this end, in 2009-2010, a pilot project was launched to explore the use of special constables as a cost-effective means to assist the File Hills First Nation police service in Saskatchewan.

I continue to work closely with my colleagues in Public Safety Canada, with provinces and territories, and with first nation and Inuit communities to determine the direction of the First Nations Policing Program for the coming years.

I welcome your questions on the First Nations Policing Program. Thank you.

5:05 p.m.


The Chair Kevin Sorenson

Thank you very much.

If it would be all right with the committee to give me the prerogative to cut back to five minutes instead of the seven, then we'd get as many in as possible.

Ms. Hoeppner, please take it for the first five.

June 7th, 2012 / 5:05 p.m.


Candice Bergen Portage—Lisgar, MB

Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.

Thank you very much to the witnesses for being here. I apologize that we were late.

There is so much fantastic information contained in your presentations. I would like to have some time to look at these presentations. We almost could build our study around a lot of the information you brought to us. I hope the committee would agree to invite you back again so we can have some quality time to ask you some questions.

We're undertaking this study, and it's huge. There are many parts to it. What would you think would be some of the main points we should hit on? At the end of your presentation, Mr. Potter, I think you said that we could help answer some questions of future policing, defining core policing, as well as provide our views on containing costs and facilitating change and innovation in policing. I appreciate that. Could you expand on that? I would really appreciate your direction on the way this committee should go as we undertake this very big study.

5:05 p.m.

Director General, Policing Policy Directorate, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mark Potter

Thank you very much, and I appreciate your question.

We identified the two objectives for the summit as awareness and practical information. It's about expanding the body of awareness that there are challenges facing this sector and that the police and others involved with the policing sector should be looking for solutions. They should be looking at what works in other parts of Canada and other parts of the world, learning from that, and applying that practical information to bring about the sort of change that is the best fit for their communities and their jurisdictions.

It's about what we can learn from others who are currently going through this process, whether it's the U.S. model, where notwithstanding some of the blunt actions in a number of jurisdictions, there are jurisdictions where they're taking a more measured approach, or the U.K. and some of the significant reforms that are under way there. Other places in Europe, such as Holland and Germany, are also undertaking some pretty significant changes.

It's about what we can learn about the evolution of policing and draw benefits and best practices from that.

5:05 p.m.


Candice Bergen Portage—Lisgar, MB

Would you be aware of other jurisdictions that, for example, have done very well in the mental health part of policing and public safety, where we could draw some wisdom from them?

You also spoke about the high cost of salaries and benefits. There was so much in your presentation. I almost need time to look at it a few times to really formulate the questions, but you talked about different jurisdictions cutting back.

If that isn't what we would want to recommend, because we want to continue with our good front-line policing, are you aware of other jurisdictions that have had successes, for example, on the issues of mental health or salaries?

5:05 p.m.

Director General, Policing Policy Directorate, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mark Potter

Yes, and I wouldn't want to mislead this committee in any way. With regard to my role and the department's role with respect to policy, we're hoping to bring some focus and coordination that will precipitate some action, but as you know, the jurisdictional responsibilities are such that the provinces, municipalities, and the associations are the key groups in terms of ultimately bringing about change.

In terms of mental health and addiction issues, there are some innovative things happening in Alberta, involving the Calgary, Edmonton, and Grand Prairie police. Special teams are put together, bringing together police and mental health workers to deal with crisis situations and particular incidents.

There's a lot we can learn about particular developments within Canada. Speaking to those police chiefs and those directly involved is the best way to get that information.

5:10 p.m.


Candice Bergen Portage—Lisgar, MB

Right here within Canada, we have solutions and best practices we can draw from.

On the salaries question, I was kind of surprised. Did you say that salaries for policing have increased by about 40% over the last however many years, whereas the general public's salaries have increased by about 11%? Is that what you said? Why is there such a huge difference? Were they underpaid? Why is there such a huge difference in increase for policing as opposed to the general public?

5:10 p.m.

Director General, Policing Policy Directorate, Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Mark Potter

That's a complex story. It depends where you look.

Particular jurisdictions give police increases for different reasons. This is data from Statistics Canada. When you look at the overall trends, it has been quite a significant increase for policing generally. The nature of the work is complex. It is difficult. The skills and the kind of judgment required in police officers are such that there needs to be a certain level of salary to attract and retain those individuals.

That would be a question for particular jurisdictions and why they've offered those salaries. Certainly we've read that collective bargaining has played a role in some provinces more than others. The levels of pay increases established among various first responders creates a precedent effect. There are a number of aspects to that.