British Columbia

B.C. RCMP orders immediate spending cuts amid predicted $10.7M shortfall

The B.C. RCMP is in a financial hole, according to an internal email sent to staff.

'Simply put, we can’t spend more than we are given,' says deputy commissioner in an internal email

Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan sent out an email last week warning RCMP staff about a deficit and immediate cuts to overtime and spending. (The Canadian Press/Sean Kilpatrick)

The B.C. RCMP is in a financial hole, according to an internal email sent to staff.

The police agency is forecasting a $10.7 million deficit and says it is moving to immediately cut spending in order to deal with the expected shortfall.

That money will be cut from the more than $450-million RCMP provincial policing budget that funds rural detachments and special units such as the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team and the anti-gang Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.

Deputy Commissioner Jennifer Strachan sent out an email to all employees last week, confirming the situation and outlining steps to reduce the deficit.  

Strachan said provincial policing costs "exceeded our spending authority" in 2018, and a similar situation is forecast for the coming year.

The RCMP is not permitted to run a budget deficit, so she called for immediate actions.

"Simply put, we can't spend more than we are given," Strachan wrote in the email.

The cuts affect the budget that pays for 2,600 officers in smaller detachments and funding for units integrated with other police services such as IHIT or the CFSEU.

The cuts would have no effect on municipal policing, which is funded 10 per cent by the federal government and 90 per cent by the municipality. 

It also does not affect the Ottawa-funded organized crime section.

Dawn Roberts, the director of communications for the B.C. RCMP, says it will limit spending cuts to discretionary services, such as travel.

"We're hoping that anybody who we provide this policing service to would not see anything obvious," Roberts said.

The provincial budget is funded 70 per cent by the province and 30 per cent by Ottawa and pays for integrated policing units and policing in communities with a population under 5,000 people.

Solicitor General Mike Farnworth sent a written statement to CBC confirming the RCMP has told the province about the deficit forecast and said they are working on solutions.

He says the cost overruns are a long-standing problem but have, so far, not affected public safety or gang and organized crime prevention initiatives.

"Budgetary constraints and inflationary impacts have been managed by the RCMP for a number of years through various financial management controls.

"The impacts are now becoming increasingly difficult for RCMP to manage and we are working with them to address the pressure and to find solutions that do not affect public safety," Farnworth said in the statement.

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