Police federation calls for Sask. to spend $100M over 5 years to bolster RCMP

The union that represents RCMP officers want the Saskatchewan government to provide more money to hire members.  (Valerie Zink/Reuters - image credit)
The union that represents RCMP officers want the Saskatchewan government to provide more money to hire members. (Valerie Zink/Reuters - image credit)

The union that represents RCMP officers in Saskatchewan is asking the provincial government to spend $100 million over the next five years to "bolster" policing in the province.

National Police Federation (NPF) president Brian Sauvé said Thursday that the province must invest to "ensure the proper delivery of services."

The NPF posted a pre-budget submission to the province on Thursday.

"Although Saskatchewan's population has grown considerably over the past 15 years, the RCMP have remained underfunded across the province and our members are consistently being told to do more with less when they are already overworked, stressed, and not fully resourced," Sauvé said.

The NPF is calling for $100 million over five years to hire:

  • 138 members to supplement First Nations policing resources.

  • 154 members assigned to general duty, federal policing, and specialized frontline support staff.

  • Additional funding to create 205 administrative support positions in RCMP detachments.

  • $2 million to study alternative policing models, fly-in or hubs.

It said the province needs to work with the RCMP to address existing challenges "before creating additional bureaucracy through new law enforcement entities."

The NPF has made it clear it does not agree with the provincial government's decision to create a new marshals service. The province has said the service would be operational by 2026, cost $20 million annually once running and have 70 officers based in Prince Albert.

"We appreciate the government of Saskatchewan's commitment to public safety. They have provided a lot of resources in terms of crime reduction teams and warrant apprehension teams," Morgan Buckingham, regional director for the NPF in Saskatchewan, said Friday.

"What the RCMP needs and what the people of Saskatchewan need is more uniformed cops. Those are the people taking calls and responding to calls right in the community."

Buckingham represents 1,350 members in RCMP's "F" division in Saskatchewan and 350 at the RCMP training depot in Regina.

He said Saskatchewan's remote and rural nature means some members do not have the adequate support they need in terms of relief and backup in the field.

"Increasing [officers] is going to increase police safety. but more importantly it is going to increase public safety."

In November, Buckingham told CBC the provincial government's plan to create the marshals service was "completely unnecessary" and done without consultation with the NPF and other police agencies.

He said the NPF is seeking a meeting with the province to discuss the issue.

"The messaging from the government has been confusing and conflicting regarding the marshals and what they will be doing."

Buckingham said the introduction and commitment to creating the service without addressing the RCMP budget requests "doesn't make sense."

Moe defends marshals plan

In an interview with CBC The Morning Edition host Stefani Langenegger this week, Premier Scott Moe defended the government's plan to create a new police force.

"Ultimately, the goal is for all of us to work together to ensure that we are making our communities much safer than maybe they have been at times in the past."

When asked why the province is not bolster existing services like the RCMP and municipal police, Moe said the government was already doing that, adding 270 RCMP officers in the last decade.

"We do need to continue to bolster those services in the same way that we have."

Moe said the government is also helping the existing forces by adding specialized police "crime reduction teams" that target everything from drug trafficking to warrant enforcement.

Moe said the marshals service would be able to help the RCMP or municipal police, and gave an example of an offender who is at large and a risk to the community.

"This marshals team will come in to assist and to help to apprehend these folks and put them where they need to be for the time being. Maybe incarcerated, maybe in a place of rehabilitation or providing some supports, but ultimately making for a safer community in a much quicker fashion."

LISTEN | Premier Scott Moe discusses the creation of the Marshals Service on The Morning Edition: 

Moe and Minister of Policing Christine Tell have said repeatedly the service is not be meant to replace the RCMP.

Moe said the service would be a "fairly specialized or highly trained police force that will assist and support the RCMP in areas of the province where they operate, but also assistance, support any of the work that is happening in our urban centres where we have municipal police forces."

He said looking five to seven years into the future, the marshals service would be able to "assist Indigenous-based police forces that are operating as well."

Moe said the province is considering creating a board, similar to municipal police commissions, to ensure the service has oversight.

"We're looking at something similar provincewide for this police force and quite likely with the alignment of our existing 300 or 350 enforcement officers that we have, I would also operate under that single chain of command."

Moe said he did not know what the startup cost of the service would be.

Survey on marshals service

In partnership with CBC News, the Canadian Hub for Applied and Social Research at the University of Saskatchewan surveyed the public last month about their view on policing and community safety in Saskatchewan. The survey included a question about the Marshals Service.

The survey received 401 responses from a range of adults from Dec. 1, 2022, to Dec. 20, 2022. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.89 per cent, 19 times out of 20.

About half of the respondents supported introducing the Marshals Service to some extent, results show.

Half of respondents support Sask. Marshals Service