Alberta government pitching that small rural areas pay for policing: NDP

Those 291 districts represent about 20 per cent of the Alberta population

Alberta’s Opposition says the government is proposing to small municipalities and rural areas that they begin to pay for some, or maybe most, of their policing costs.

NDP Leader Rachel Notley says in some cases municipalities are being told they may have to pay up to 70 per cent, which would average out to $406 per resident a year.

Notley says the details are in a transcript released by her caucus of a webinar broadcast earlier this month by Justice Department staff to municipal officials.

Notley says the proposal flies in the face of a government that won last spring’s election in part on a promise to be there for rural residents dealing with crime.

Small municipalities under 5,000 residents and other rural districts have their policing costs covered entirely by the province at a cost of almost $233 million a year.

Those 291 districts represent about 20 per cent of the Alberta population.

In the webinar transcript, officials say they want to move to a model in which districts would pay between 15 and 70 per cent of the cost. They don’t say why they want to change the formula or where the savings would go.

Notley said Premier Jason Kenney has broken faith with rural Albertans.

“It would seem that for all the bluster and promises made by this premier about taking the task of fighting crime seriously, he actually left out one important detail in the last election. And that is that rural Albertans will have to pay significantly more in order to ensure that they have safety in their communities,” Notley told a news conference Wednesday.

“(And) in return for paying this brand new bill, they will see no improvement in services, no additional boots on the ground.”

Justice Minister Doug Schweitzer, who is touring the province listening to concerns on rural crime, was not made available for an interview and instead issued a three-line statement.

“The assertions made by the fearmongering NDP are ridiculous and unfounded and once again demonstrate the NDP’s complete lack of financial literacy,” he said.

“Our government made a commitment to Albertans to consult on the police funding model that became broken under the NDP. We are investing more in policing, not less.”

Schweitzer’s statement did not address the NDP’s specific concerns, nor did it say whether his department is indeed seeking to have rural municipalities pay some of their policing costs and, if so, how much.

Kenney has said that the government needs to find savings to end the multibillon-dollar budget deficit in four years.

He campaigned on a platform to reduce rural crime, promised to hire more prosecutors and recommended that crimes in rural areas be considered an aggravating factor in sentencing.

While still in government, Notley’s NDP brought in a $10-million rural crime strategy that included streamlining and hiring more police and prosecutors.

The 2018-19 Justice Department’s annual report says that led to reduced car thefts and break and enters and a nine per cent drop in rural property crime.

Dean Bennett, The Canadian Press

Just Posted

Sylvan Lake RCMP arrest man in Fox Run area hit and run

The arrest was made with the help of information provided by alert Sylvan Lakers

PHOTOS: Senior girls Aces beat the Blazers

The senior girls Eckville Aces met the Bowden Blazers in a Wednesday night game on Oct. 16

Lacombe County Council Highlights

County Council met for its regular meeting of council on Oct. 10

Pilot project proposed for Sylvan Lake and Rimbey RCMP

Chief Superintendent Shahin Mehdizadeh spoke about the project at Tuesday’s meeting of council

Sylvan Lake shoreline flags wrongfully replaced by well-meaning citizen

Al Cameron of VVOC says a loose thread is not enough to replace the Canadian flags on lakeshore

Scheer, Trudeau, Singh haggle over potential minority government outcome

If you believe the polls, it appears the Liberals and Conservatives are neck-and-neck

‘The more you test, the more you find’: Beef recalls a sign of success, experts say

Despite appearances, experts say a recent rise in major recalls is not a sign of food supply problems

PODCAST: Journalism instructor discusses how reporters have taken on climate change

Mount Royal University’s Sean Holman has been researching how journalists have covered climate change

ELECTION 2019: Have Justin Trudeau’s Liberals really cut middle-class taxes?

Conservative Andrew Scheer vows to cut bottom bracket, NDP’s Jagmeet Singh targets wealth tax

Alberta truck convoy plans counter-protest at climate rally with Greta Thunberg

United We Roll organizer says similar protest planned for Swedish teen’s event in Edmonton

Alberta takes second look at trucking changes after meeting Broncos families

Transportation minister has said government was reviewing rules for school bus drivers and farmers

Male pedestrian dead after collision with train in Blackfalds

Man from Red Deer pronounced dead at the scene

‘Sky didn’t fall:’ Police, lawyers still adjusting after pot legalization

Statistics Canada says 541 people were charged under the federal Cannabis Act between Oct. 17, 2018 and the end of the year

Fewer people prescribed opioids in Canada. but some provinces lack data: doctors

Patients who began taking opioids were prescribed smaller doses for shorter duration

Most Read