Replacing the RCMP with a provincial police force could cost Albertans hundreds of millions of dollars more each year, and result in a four per cent increase in the number of police officers on the street, according to a report commissioned by the province.
The PricewaterhouseCoopers report, presented to the government last April and released publicly on Friday, provides no precise figure on how much more Albertans would pay for their own police force should they lose the $170 million the federal government contributes yearly for policing by the RCMP.
Justice Minister Kaycee Madu said a provincial police force would be more efficient and cost effective by relying on Alberta government support services.
“And while the challenges are not insignificant, we believe that a made-in Alberta provincial police service is worth serious consideration,” Madu said at a news conference.
Adopting a provincial police force would take up to six years — four years of planning and preparation, and up to two years of transitioning an Alberta Provincial Police Service (APPS) in, and the RCMP out.
PwC estimates the cost of that transition at between $366 million to $371 million.
Madu said the report contains innovative ideas that would help address some of rural Albertans’ concerns about the RCMP, help address some of the root causes of crime, and embed nurses and mental health professionals into the force.
He also said an APPS would be more inclusive of, and responsive to, Indigenous communities.
Madu said no final decision will be made until he and his department conduct consultations across Alberta with Indigenous people, rural communities, crime watch groups, victims services and others.
However, he made his preference clear, saying: “The time has come for the province of Alberta to do the same for the best interest of our province” by taking control of policing like Ontario and Quebec have done.
The PwC report recommends a provincial police service be overseen by a provincial police commission, which would have at least two government representatives on the board, along with people from rural, urban and Indigenous communities.
The report says Alberta should consider two models, the more expensive one of which relies more heavily on police with more extensive training. It proposes combining Alberta’s sheriff service with the provincial police, for a total estimated cost of between $734 million and $758 million per year.
The government commissioned the study after its Fair Deal Panel suggested in 2019 a provincially controlled police force could help the province have more autonomy.
Last year, the government estimated the study could cost around $2 million.
In a video statement posted to YouTube on Friday, RCMP Deputy Commissioner Curtis Zablocki said officers were “fiercely proud” to serve Alberta and will continue to do so until a decision has been reached.
“As of today, and until a decision is made, we remain the police service of jurisdiction here in the province and we are resolute in our commitment to the safety and security of Albertans,” he said.