By Alejandra Pulido-Guzman - Lethbridge Herald on February 10, 2024.
The National Police Federation (NPF) is asking the provincial government to make room in its 2024 budget for the RCMP to be able to increase the number of officers serving Albertans.
NPF Prairie Region director Kevin Halwa told the Herald Friday they are asking the UCP to invest $80 million over three years so the RCMP to be able to hire 400 officers to meet with population growth and future demand.
“There is also $4 million ask in grant funding support for the implementation of policing committees that the government wants in each community, as well as another $4 million to expand the regional police and crisis teams in partnership with Alberta Health Services,” said Halwa.
When it comes to the number of RCMP officers the NPF is asking the provincial government for funding through the budget, he explained why they are asking to fund 400 new positions.
“That’s based on the number of Albertans that are currently served by the RCMP and the appropriate ratio to serve them, using a formula that has been well thought out,” said Halwa.
He said RCMP members are responsible for upholding the safety of more than 1.5 million Albertans from the Rocky Mountains to the prairies, and yet last year’s budget only provided funds for Alberta Sheriffs.
These asks are incredibly important to look after and serve Albertans in a matter they deserve to be served, he said.
“Last year’s budget did not provide any additional resources for the provincial police service in Alberta, which is the RCMP, and it’s time that our members and the communities that they serve stop having to do more with less, and it’s time to address that issue,” said Halwa.
Â He explained the issue is that despite the population of Alberta booming over the last many years, there has not been a commensurate growth of RCMP positions to be able to police and serve those communities.
“The problem is that there aren’t enough positions. More positions need to be created to hire those 400 people, and the number of positions in existence are completely within the purview of the provincial justice minister,” said Halwa.
He explained that under article 5 of the Provincial Policing Service Agreement, the provincial minister sets the size and the makeup of the RCMP in Alberta.
“Something that’s completely under his control. This is something that can be easily fixed if they just simply add those resources,” said Halwa.
Â He said staffing those 400 positions will not be an issue as there are well over 15,000 applicants each year to the RCMP.
Â “Filling those positions won’t be an issue, there just needs to be positions to fill. There are plenty of able and suitable men and women across the province ready to join the RCMP” said Halwa.
In regards of the $4 million to expand the regional police and crisis teams, Halwa said the RCMP has been increasing relied on to fill gaps in the mental health sector.
“For too long, our members have been called on to fill gaps left by shrinking social services. It is time for our members in Alberta to receive the necessary, timely, and much needed investments they deserve and have been promised,” said Halwa. Â