Are Sask. RCMP detachments operating without backup? Minister wants to know

Saskatchewan's Minister of Justice says he has heard that some detachments are operating without expected numbers of officers.

Sask. should have 925 RCMP working, under terms of agreement

Justice Minister Gordon Wyant. (CBC)

Saskatchewan's Minister of Justice says anonymous sources within the RCMP have told him that some detachments in the province are operating without the expected numbers of officers.

Gordon Wyant said Wednesday he has heard similar complaints, about RCMP staffing levels, from rural residents and leaders.

There are vacancy issues in a number of detachments.- Gordon Wyant

Wyant  said Saskatchewan's policing agreement notes 925 officers should be providing service in the province, but he has been told about staff shortages in some detachments. The shortages relate, he said, to unfilled vacancies.

"Vacancies [in detachments] where there are a number of officers deployed, yet a number were on parental leave, sick leave, training or retirement leave, those kinds of things which weren't being back-filled," he said. "Those are the kinds of things that we became worried about. So, we've initiated a discussion with the [federal] Minister of Public Safety."

Wyant said he wants to clarify the staffing levels and then work with the federal government to ensure RCMP in Saskatchewan are operating at full strength.

"So that we have the right complement in the detachments across Saskatchewan."

When asked about response-times for calls to the RCMP, Wyant said it is may be that some areas are understaffed.

"There are vacancy issues in a number of detachments and I think we need to address that," he said.

Wyant explained that meetings with his federal counterpart, about three weeks ago, focused on that topic.

Wyant said events in the Biggar area, where a farmer is facing a homicide charge following the shooting death Colten Boushie, also led officials to delve into policing matters more closely.

"Not just the deployment," Wyant said. "But how the resources that we pay for, from the RCMP, are actually used in Saskatchewan."

With files from CBC Radio's Afternoon Edition