Alberta Politics

How much will a provincial police force cost Alberta? More.

In the move to provide Alberta more autonomy from Ottawa, Premier Jason Kenney’s Fair Deal Panel heard, for the umpteenth time, that a provincial police force would help.

As with too many of the Alberta government’s proposals, cost is no issue – unless we’re already paying.

Ignoring the fact that the federal government provides a subsidy when provinces use the R.C.M.P. – currently a $112 million grant to cover policing in Alberta – Kenney’s government has already begun to download policing costs to smaller centres.

In 2019, the United Conservative Party legislated an increase to policing costs.

Rural municipalities currently pay around 10 per cent of the costs of rural policing but that amount is set to increase to 15 per cent in 2021, 20 per cent in 2022, and 30 per cent in 2023.

In southern Alberta’s Vulcan County, policing costs will increase to around $93 per person per year. Wetaskiwin County in central Alberta is looking at tripling the current costs as well.

For a province that is broke, rural municipalities are apparently still a source of income – unless you’re an oil and gas company, of course.

Some municipalities are facing massive losses of millions of dollars from non-payment of property taxes by oil and gas companies, but even in municipalities where there is support for increased policing, even they don’t want the bill.

The province is currently responsible for 70 per cent of costs and the federal government covers the rest.

But what rural municipality is worried about increased costs? Pfft.

The question is, how will Albertans respond when the autonomy plan costs more?

“It’s going to be more expensive for the rural [municipal districts] and counties. There’s just no question,” High River Mayor Craig Snodgrass told the CBC in June.

“If (policing costs are completely) provincial, it’ll definitely impact our town budget with what we pay for enforcement… it’ll be a massive change for the rural counties and [municipal districts] because they don’t pay that right now.”

Will Albertans get on board with paying for things they want? Will elected municipal officials go toe-to-toe with elected provincial officials to fight for the “taxes are theft” ideology?

Advocating for ideology is grand until you have to implement real-world solutions in a real world where ideology isn’t a reality.

Even though this proposal has been well-researched for more than two decades, Kenney’s government is committed to spending more – more time and more money.

A provincial police force is about to cost Albertans $2 million – and we don’t even have one yet.

This post contains opinion.

Deirdre Mitchell-MacLean is a political commentator physically distancing in Southern Alberta. Connect: @Mitchell_AB for more, @thisweekinAB for posts

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