Quebec pays hefty price for police presence in First Nations villages

First Nations leaders in Quebec say the province is digging deep to pay for the rising costs of policing in their community.
The price of having the Sûreté du Québec patrol aboriginal communities has increased by 60 per cent in five years. (CBC)

First Nations leaders in Quebec say the province is digging deep to fund the rising costs of policing in their communities.

SQ-patrolled First Nations communities

  • Kanesatake
  • Lac Barrière
  • Unamen Shipu or La Romaine
  • Natashquan
  • Matimekosh
  • Mingan

Radio-Canada reported that the cost of having the provincial police patrol in a number of Innu, Mohawk and Algonquin communities shot up by 60 per cent between 2006 and 2011.

Kanesatake Grand Chief Serge Simon said the Sûreté du Québec costs more than $3 million a year for his community alone. That is nearly three times more than when the village had its own patrol.

The cost of policing Innu communities on Quebec's North Shore increased from $684,000 in 2006 to $5.8 million in 2011.

He said the fees are so high because officers are getting paid overtime to patrol his village.

The SQ offers policing in seven villages where the native forces has been dismantled because of mismanagement issues, according to Radio-Canada.

Lt. Michel Brunet said officers on leave had to be called in to help police in those communities.

"They're being paid overtime at this moment," he said.

The result is a hefty price tag for the province – costs have increased from about $10 million to an estimated $16 million in five years.

The head of the native police association, Éric Gros-Louis, said policing First Nations communities is turning into a gold mine for SQ officers.

According to Radio-Canada, the province said it would like aboriginal communities to return to their own police forces. That would allow for significant savings at the public security ministry.

Meanwhile, the province continues to finance First Nations police services. In 2010-2011, the Quebec government gave the communities a total of $38 million.