Thunder Bay

High violent crime rate sends Thunder Bay police budget into the red

The Thunder Bay Police Service ended 2018 $1.2M over budget. Nearly half of that — $519,900 — was due to officer overtime, police chief Sylvie Hauth said.

The Thunder Bay Police Service ended 2018 $1.2M over budget

Thunder Bay Police Service Chief Sylvie Hauth presented her fourth quarter budget variance report to the Thunder Bay Police Services Board on Tuesday. (Heather Kitching/CBC)

The Thunder Bay Police Service ended 2018 more than $1.2 million over budget, and the police chief says the city's violent crime rate is partly to blame. 

Sylvie Hauth presented her budget variance report Tuesday to the Thunder Bay Police Services Board.

Nearly half of the overage — $519,900 — was due to officer overtime, she said.   

"In the later portion of the year, we ended up seeing quite a number of homicides, serious incidents within our community, and that obviously drives up the cost of overtime," she told CBC.

"When we still are recognized as a very violent community in terms of our violent crimes — high in numbers in terms of our homicides, our sexual assaults, our missing persons — those are investigations that are very labour intensive."

Several other factors also contributed to the budget overage this year, Hauth said, including legal fees and other expenses incurred by the Police Services Board and costs related to travel — such as to accompany the remains of deceased individuals to the coroner's office in Toronto.   

In addition, she said, the force was hit with increased payments related to Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB) claims, due in part to an increased numbers of officers off work with work-related injuries.

Though Hauth, for privacy reasons, could not disclose the circumstances that lead to officer's claims, Thunder Bay Police Service director of communications Chris Adams told CBC that 2016 changes to WSIB rules, which now allow first responders to make claims for post-traumatic stress disorder without having to prove they are work-related, might be contributing to a province-wide upward trend in WSIB claims by police officers