RCMP costs to the City of Penticton have risen by more than $220,000 over the past two years. What would you do to stabilize RCMP funding and ensure communities can afford policing?
Richard Cannings, NDP
Policing is a concern across the riding, not only in Penticton. Although the Conservatives made a commitment for 2,500 more police officers across Canada, they reneged on that promise and there are now 2,000 less RCMP than there were four years ago.
Thomas Mulcair announced in August that he would re-establish the Police Officer Recruitment Fund with a $250 million investment over four years, followed by permanent ongoing funding of $100 million annually.
Why police costs are going up while crime is going down on average is a difficult question. Our communities would benefit from better funding for programs dealing with some of the root causes of crime, which include substance abuse, drug addiction and homelessness.
Connie Denesiuk, Liberal
Under B.C.’s Police Act, municipalities with populations over 5,000 are responsible for providing policing and law enforcement within their boundaries. These municipalities may form their own independent police department, contract with an existing independent department or contract with the provincial government for RCMP police services. Cities such as Penticton have contracted to provide RCMP police services to their communities.
Policing costs are a big ticket item for Penticton and other communities throughout the South Okanagan-West Kootenay. Unmet social needs add significantly to pressures on contracted RCMP resources. Help is needed to reduce present demand for police involvement with people who suffer with untreated mental illness, addictions and homelessness. A Liberal government will increase the availability of such mental health services for Canadians. This would entail working with participating provinces to implement an integrated approach for access to acute services, care referrals, supportive housing and community and multidisciplinary team management. In summary, a Liberal government will support communities through a 10-year investment in social infrastructure.
A Liberal government will also legalize marijuana, allowing police to direct their efforts and resources elsewhere, focusing instead on organized crime and associated activities such as fraud, money laundering and gang violence. For example, the experience of the state of Colorado has shown that property crime, theft and motor vehicle deaths have actually decreased following the legalization of marijuana.
As your MP I will advocate for an independent and comprehensive review of RCMP cost-drivers, potential efficiencies and lessons from best practices here in Canada and elsewhere.
Brian Gray, Independent
If costs for Penticton RCMP detachment have increased by more than $220,000 over the last two years, one would hope these additional monies were for additional staff and have made our community safer.
Being of frugal Scottish stock, I nevertheless do believe that $220,000 over two years really is not exorbitant. I firmly believe that if our court system functioned as a justice system rather than a legal system and adjudicated in a more timely manner the cost of policing would decrease.
Case in point, a number of months ago the RCMP apprehended an individual in possession of a large quantity and varied assortment of controlled substances — heroin, cocaine, meth, ecstasy, you name it. Upon being taken in to custody, it became apparent this person had a very lengthy criminal record and was wanted on a warrant in Alberta. The logical course of action would be to hold this criminal in custody until a member of the Alberta sheriff’s department was dispatched and relieves our city of this individual. The courts released this guy on his own recognizance.
If we wish to provide our cities and our citizens with the deserved and needed programs and services, such as policing, we obviously need to dramatically expand our tax base through economic development and the creation of real wealth. The policy presented in my platform will create this needed growth for a productive and creative Canadian society. Regrettably some all candidate forum sponsors and CBC radio have denied the voters of this riding access to this policy which can be found at www.facebook.com/briangray2015.
Marshall Neufeld, Conservative
Our Conservative Government is committed to ensuring that our streets and communities are safe.
This means ensuring that the city of Penticton has the resources it needs for local police services. The policing contract between the city and the RCMP provides the best value for money.
All contract RCMP costs for municipal and community policing are cost shared at a ratio of 70 per cent (municipal) to 30 per cent (federal). If communities require expanded policing they could see their costs increase.
It is important to note that the percentage shared remains the same and has not changed the entire time the Conservative party has been in government.
We are committed to providing the city with the funding they need and these contract police services remain the best value for money option available.
Samantha Troy, Green Party
Many criminal acts are committed due to individuals being marginalized by circumstances of poverty and substance abuse.
Assisting people out of such circumstance would go a long ways to reducing community crime. Implementing a “guaranteed liveable income,” consisting of a federal minimum wage of $15 per hour, would be one tool to help reduce rampant poverty. Renewing the Canada Health Accord and implementing a national Pharmacare program would greatly help people’s ability to care for themselves. Investments to post secondary education would also enhance citizens ability to pursue training which would lead to meaningful employment.
If people are occupied by more worthy ambitions, they are less inclined to turn to a life of petty (and costly) crime. Legalizing, controlling and taxing marijuana would be a smart way to reduce policing costs, and it would increase available funds for our police services to enforce more significant criminal issues. These are some of the ideas which the Green Party would implement which would aid our regional RCMP in being better able to fiscally perform their duties.