RCMP lops $10 million from its B.C. spending

VANCOUVER — The RCMP is cutting more than $10 million from its provincial policing costs, which include small rural detachments, and some of the funding for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team and the anti-gang Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.

RCMP Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan sent an email last week stating that due to a deficit, cuts to overtime, travel budgets and other discretionary expenses would have to be made immediately.

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Strachan said in the email, a copy of which was obtained by the Vancouver Sun, that provincial policing costs “exceeded our spending authority” last year and “we are forecasting a similar situation this fiscal year.”

“As you are aware we are not permitted to run a deficit budget, simply put, we can’t spend more than we are given. Individual budgets may appear to have available funds, however, cumulatively, we do not have enough funds,” she said.

The cut only affects the “provincial business line” — the RCMP budget in B.C. that covers the cost of 2,600 Mounties in small detachments across the province as well as some of the funding for integrated units such as the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team and Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.

Municipal policing agreements such as those in Surrey and Burnaby are funded 90 per cent by the municipalities and 10 per cent by the federal government and are not affected. The Federal Serious and Organized Crime section, which is financed by money from Ottawa, is also not affected.

The total provincial policing budget in B.C. is about $450 million.

Strachan said the cost-cutting measures “will assist in addressing a portion of our deficit. However, it will not cover the entire deficit.”

“We are continuing to work with our partners in the provincial government to address the issue of the pressures, make sure that the [provincial budget line] is sufficiently funded, and reducing or eliminating areas that do not support the provincial policing services they want us to provide.”

“I fully recognize that these measures will have a negative impact on our employees and they may potentially affect operations, but regrettably they must be made to ensure we remain within our allotted budget.”

Some front-line officers told the Vancouver Sun they are concerned the cuts to overtime and travel may have an impact ongoing or future investigations.

B.C. Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth was not available for an interview Wednesday about the cuts.

But his office issued a statement saying “to be clear, the projected deficit has been communicated to government by the RCMP. Budgetary constraints and inflationary impacts have been managed by the RCMP for a number of years through various financial management controls.”

“The impacts are now becoming increasingly difficult for RCMP to manage and we are working with them to address the pressure and to find solutions that do not affect public safety. This has not impacted significant and continued provincial and federal investments into gangs and organized crime initiatives and prevention.”

Both the federal and provincial government have committed targeted funding for programs to stem gang and gun violence in B.C. that won’t be affected by the cuts, Farnworth said in his statement.

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