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

Bantam Broncs better on both sides in big win

Ponoka pounds Lindsay Thurber 38-12 in final regular season home game

Stamps off to excellent start

Ponoka’s junior squad has earned points in each game this season so far

Ponoka Youth Centre rolls back Before School Program to early start

Drop off to change to 6:30 a.m. starting Oct. 15

Our thriving town began as a whistle stop along Siding 14

By Mike Rainone for the News For those of us who were… Continue reading

VIDEO: #MeToo leader launches new hashtag to mobilize U.S. voters

Tarana Burke hopes to prompt moderators to ask about sexual violence at next debate

Alberta government won’t seek meeting with teen enviro-activist Greta Thunberg

NDP Opposition Leader Rachel Notley urged Alberta’s United Conservatives to meet with Thunberg

Maskwacis RCMP seek public assistance to locate missing female

Maskwacis RCMP are asking for public assistance to locate 21 year-old Kiona… Continue reading

Alberta to join B.C.’s class-action lawsuit against opioid manufacturers, distributors

B.C. government claims opioids were falsely marketed as less addictive than other pain meds

VIDEO: Trudeau, Singh posture for ‘progressive’ votes while Scheer fights in Quebec

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh, whose party has been on the rise in recent polls, is campaigning in Toronto

Advance voter turnout up 25% for first two days: Elections Canada

Two million people voted Friday and Saturday

In the news: Sprinting to the election finish line and anger amid Manitoba storms

First Nations residents forced to evacuate their Manitoba homes after a recent snowstorm

Advance voting set to end

One last chance to vote in if you are not going to be home on Oct. 21

‘Save the kids!’ Dorian survivor tells the harrowing story of his Canadian wife’s death

Family held a funeral and placed Alishia Liolli’s remains in a niche at a cemetery in Windsor, Ont.

Most Read