The RCMP will help police Alberta for the next 20 years under a deal announced Friday, putting an end to suggestions that the province create its own provincial force.

Federal Public Safety Minister Vic Toews and Premier Ed Stelmach signed a contract that will see the Mounties continue their role as Alberta's provincial police service.

Negotiations took almost four years, according to a statement issued by both governments.

The current contract runs out next year. The new agreement maintains the existing cost-sharing agreement with 70 per cent covered by the province and the federal government picking up the rest.

Alberta Solicitor General Frank Oberle said it makes no sense to create a provincial police force. 

"Crime doesn't follow municipal or provincial or even national boundaries, and we shouldn't restrict ourselves to local policing," he said.

Some facts about RCMP policing in Alberta:

  • There are 111 detachments in Alberta.
  • K-Division employs about 4,000 people, including more than 1,450 regular member positions under the provincial policing contract.
  • The RCMP has 43 municipal policing contracts in communities with populations over 5,000 in addition to its federal policing responsibilities.
  • The RCMP's only police service dog training facility is located in Innisfail.
  • The RCMP has been Alberta's provincial police service since 1932.
  • Alberta had its own provincial police force from 1917 to 1932. The province reverted to RCMP services April 1, 1932.

Source: RCMP

Toews said that the deal is a template for the other provinces and territories that use the RCMP as their provincial force, and that he looks forward to concluding agreements with them by December.

Ontario and Quebec have their own provincial police forces, while the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary polices about 40 per cent of that province's population, leaving the rest to the Mounties.

The RCMP also contracts with individual Alberta cities and towns to provide municipal policing in places like Red Deer, Grande Prairie and St. Albert. In all, the Mounties have 111 detachments and more than 3,000 officers in the province.

In 2001, as part of their notorious "firewall" manifesto, a group of prominent Albertans — including Prime Minister Stephen Harper and Alberta Progressive Conservative leadership candidate Ted Morton — called on the province to "build firewalls around Alberta" by, in part, not renewing its contract with the RCMP and creating a provincial force instead.

With files from The Canadian Press