Mar 21 2012 VICTORIA - The British Columbia government has unveiled details of a new agreement with the federal government that keeps the RCMP as its provincial force, saying the contract offers more control over how the Mounties operate.
The 20-year agreement, which is essentially identical to contracts reached in five other provinces and three territories, comes a year after the province threatened to pull out of negotiations altogether and set up its own force.
B.C. has the largest provincial contingent of Mounties in the country. More than 5,000 officers and thousands of civilian members serve not only as the provincial force, but also the local police department in all but 11 municipalities.
Under the new agreement, the province and municipal governments will have greater input into how the RCMP spends money, how its operations are structured and who is appointed to senior management positions.
The force will also fall under the responsibility of B.C.'s new independent investigation unit, which will investigate serious allegations involving police officers in the province. This was a major concern in B.C., where the death of Robert Dziekanski, who was stunned with a Taser by Mounties at Vancouver's airport, put a spotlight on RCMP accountability.
The contract contains a two-year opt-out clause, and a mandatory review in five years.
The cost structure remains unchanged, with the province paying 70 per cent of the costs of provincial policing and large cities paying 90 per cent of their policing costs.
Municipalities with 5,000 to 15,000 residents will pay 70 per cent of the costs of policing.
But there will be increases.
The provincial share for B.C. is currently about $310 million per year, and that figure will jump by about $5.7 million for 2012-2013 - an increase of 1.7 per cent.
Cities with populations of more than 15,000 people are collectively paying $458 million right now, and that total will increase by $2.35 million in the coming year, or 0.69 per cent.
Smaller municipalities will together pay $320,000 more, which is about one per cent more than the $54 million the already pay.
The agreement follows contentious negotiations between the provinces and the federal government, with the two levels of government sparring over costs and control over the decision making process.
Alberta and Saskatchewan broke off from the collective negotiations and signed their own agreements last year. Those contracts have me-too clauses ensuring those provinces can take advantage of the larger contract with the rest of the provinces.
Six provinces and three territories continued negotiating together, announcing last fall they had reached a deal. Many of the details, including the opt-out clause and the five-year review, were released at the time.