Politics

RCMP changes application requirements, with permanent residents welcome to apply

The RCMP has changed its application requirements, with more people now eligible to apply to be a Mountie and some applicants not needing to take some of the previously mandatory tests.

Among the changes taking effect today, applicants no longer have to pass physical abilities test in advance

Until recently, Mounties had to be Canadian citizens. But under the changes that took effect May1, permanent residents who have lived in Canada for at least 10 years are also eligible to apply. (Mark Taylor/The Canadian Press)

The RCMP has changed its application requirements, with more people now eligible to apply to be a Mountie and some applicants not needing to take some of the previously mandatory tests.

Up until now, Mounties had to be Canadian citizens. But under the changes that took effect today, permanent residents who have lived in Canada for at least 10 years are eligible to apply.

The shift could only help the RCMP meet its target for 20 per cent of its ranks to be comprised of visible minorities.

Last summer, the RCMP exempted university graduates from taking the national police force's entrance exam. Now, people with a minimum two-year college diploma may also skip the exam, which tests a person's aptitude for police work. 

There are also changes to the physical abilities requirement evaluation. Previously, prospective recruits had to complete the test at their own expense before submitting an application. Going forward, RCMP applicants won't have to perform the test until they've been accepted at the RCMP's training academy in Regina — called Depot Division — and the Mounties will cover the cost.

The RCMP says it will reimburse the $79 fee to anyone who completed the test between Jan. 1 and March 15, 2016.

These are big changes for the national police force; the RCMP Act says members of the RCMP must be citizens. The only exception is when there is no one available for appointment who meets all the criteria except citizenship.

It suggests the Mounties may not be receiving enough applications to keep up with the pace of retirements or meet the demands of its policing contracts with several provinces. That could explain a notice on the RCMP website that reads: "In order to meet organizational needs, applicants from British Columbia, Alberta, Saskatchewan or Manitoba will have the opportunity to select their home province for their first post following graduation."

Many Canadian police services, such as Ottawa and Vancouver, already welcome permanent residents. In Calgary, landed immigrants can also become police officers.

The RCMP did not respond last week when CBC News asked for the reason behind the changes to the application requirements. Even so, these changes could help the Mounties reach a larger pool of applicants, including more visible minorities.

RCMP recruits for Depot Division in troops of 32 cadets. A spokesperson for the academy said the school is scheduled to receive 34 troops over the next fiscal year. The next troop starts May 2.

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