Skip to content

B.C. unsure of policing path despite Ottawa commitment to RCMP contract

Feds confirm interest beyond existing contract, B.C. unclear about what proposed changes could mean
Ottawa has told B.C. that the RCMP would continue to provide on-the-ground policing in the province while Ottawa reforms the service. (Black Press Media file photo)

The federal government has informed B.C. that the RCMP will continue to provide on-the-ground policing in B.C. while Ottawa reforms the service.

Federal Public Safety Minister Dominic LeBlanc said in a letter to B.C.'s Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth that Ottawa is "committed to honour" its "contract policing obligations."  

The RCMP is the largest police body in B.C. with almost 7,000 officers and the RCMP's contract with B.C. is the largest in the country.

More than 7 out of 10 British Columbians receive their policing through the RCMP, which operates 144 detachments in 150 municipalities. The only exceptions are the 12 municipalities with municipal police departments.  B.C.s RCMP contract runs until March 31, 2032 and LeBlanc signalled a willingness to extend this arrangement under better terms, when he said he looks forward to finding a path in re-negotiations to "support you in your needs and priorities when it comes to policing in your jurisdiction today and beyond 2032."

LeBlanc added that the most recent federal budget included new resources to ensure contract policing is meeting the needs of Canadians and "most importantly" learn more about provincial plans "as we approach the expiry of the current policing contracts."

LeBlanc's letter, however, also reiterated Ottawa's commitment to reforms that aim to transform the RCMP. That would involve creating what some have called a Canadian version of the Federal Bureau of Investigation with a narrow focus on "highest-level criminal threats to Canada, its citizens, and Canadian interests, both at home and abroad."

LeBlanc said he envisions an "end-state for federal policing that is separate and distinct from the RCMP's contract policing mandate" to assure and prioritize resources. 

"I will admit to a little bit of confusion about the federal government's position on the RCMP and contract," Premier David Eby Thursday (June 13) said. "This provides us with certainty for short-term, but clearly indicates the federal government's interest in reform in terms of how the RCMP operates." 

Eby added that he still do not know what that looks like and what B.C.'s role will be. 

"The big challenge we have with the RCMP is filling those vacancies that we have funded provincially, especially for rural and remote communities," he said. "We have funded hundreds of additional RCMP positions that detachments are really struggling to fill."

Eby then called on Ottawa to "dramatically ramp" up the training of new RCMP officers to fill those vacancies. "(If) we are going to maintain that contract, that brings with it the responsibility for training," Eby said. "That's the critical piece that can't be dismissed in the discussion about the model -- is there a police officer in the community that has been trained and is ready to go -- that's the question that we have for the feds."

LeBlanc's letter comes after an all-party-committee in 2022 had recommended the establishment of a new provincial police force.  




Wolf Depner

About the Author: Wolf Depner

I joined the national team with Black Press Media in 2023 from the Peninsula News Review, where I had reported on Vancouver Island's Saanich Peninsula since 2019.
Read more