Hopes are high that the Municipality of North Cowichan and other local governments across B.C. won’t have to pay the retroactive costs of the new contract with the RCMP when it is finally signed, according to Mayor Al Siebring.
Speaking to council at its meeting last week, Siebring said that during a recent Zoom meeting between approximately 70 B.C. mayors and officials from the federal Ministry of Public Safety regarding the new RCMP contract and its retroactive costs, the government heard these extra costs are a significant impact on municipal budgets in the province.
“The feds clearly heard that these costs are substantial and many local governments had not adequately prepared for the full impact of these costs, and this inadequate preparation was the result of bad advice we had received from the feds,” he said.
“In 2018, the feds told us to put away a certain amount of dollars in reserve for the retroactivity, and those that did found in the end this reserve wasn’t big enough. I made the point quite strongly that the entire negotiating process is deeply flawed. The problem is that the federal Treasury Board is responsible for negotiating the contract in which they bear minimal financial responsibility.”
Siebring said that the local governments are currently expected to bear between 80 and 90 per cent of the costs of the contract that will be imposed on them while having little input into the negotiations.
North Cowichan was provided with an estimate of between $1.12 million and $1.17 million in retroactive costs of the new RCMP contract, but that is expected to be higher as the negotiations continue.
Siebring said the next round of bargaining for the new contract is set for later in 2022.
“We’re hoping that some of our concerns will be addressed [during the next round],” he said.
“Our comments were taken under advisement and I have a sense the feds are taking seriously the requests from the Union of B.C. Municipalities and the Federation of Canadian Municipalities to cover the full costs of the retroactivity that we’re currently expected to pay. That sense comes from several things, and primarily from a commitment made in the meeting that local governments won’t be invoiced for these costs until a decision is made of the broader question of who will pay for the retroactivity.”