Montreal's police brotherhood is slamming the City of Montreal's decision to slash between 200 and 250 jobs over the next five years, in an attempt to reduce salary costs.
Montreal police Chief Marc Parent confirmed the cuts in an interview with Radio-Canada. Parent said between 40 and 50 jobs will be cut each year, over the next five years.
Parent said the positions will be eliminated by attrition, by not replacing police officers who retire.
The job cuts are expected to save the city up to $25 million dollars, or $100,000 for every position that is eliminated.
"This is not something new for us," said Parent. "The city is scaling back. The police are also part of the city's services and over the next five years, we also have to review how we can better use our resources and adapt to a new fiscal reality, because the capacity of citizens to pay has really hit its limit."
Yves Francoeur, president of Montreal's Police Brotherhood, says the union found out about the cuts several weeks ago and informed its members.
Francoeur said police already lack resources to address evolving issues, such as terrorism and online crime.
"On one side, they ask more [from] us, and on the other side they cut 250 officers in the next five years. It doesn't make sense," said Francoeur.
Francoeur said other new initiatives, such as the city's plans for an anti-radicalization centre, will put a strain on police resources. He says the centre and its anti-radicalization hotline are "a good idea" but says the city can't cut back the police force and expect the centre to get results.
"We'll see because right now it's nothing. It's only a few officers who will answer the phone," said Francoeur. "But when we're going to have somebody that we know is involved [in radicalization] what are we going to do with him? That's the big question."
"I think it's time for the city to say that the priority is the security of citizens, not always talking about a question of money," said Francoeur.
The announcement of the cuts comes as the police union and the City of Montreal are set to begin negotiations on a new collective agreement next week.
The city is demanding the police union pay back $18.5 million in fines and traffic tickets, which the Coderre administration claims went uncollected by police, as a pressure tactic against the province's pension reform. Francoeur says the union is waiting on a decision on the matter from Quebec's labour relations board.