WINNIPEG-The federal government has announced a cash infusion of $291.2 million over five years for policing in First Nation and
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale made the announcement Wednesday in Winnipeg, saying the money will start flowing to communities served under the First Nations Policing Program in the 2018-2019 fiscal year.
The announcement includes money for up to 110 additional officer positions, starting in 2019-2020.
Provincial and territorial governments fund 48 per cent of the policing program and they will be asked to increase their spending to maintain their share of the costs.
The next due date for renewing agreements with provinces, territories and Indigenous communities is April 1 of this year.
In the 2015-2016 fiscal year, there were 185 police service agreements covering more than 430,000 people in 450 First Nation and
Inuit communities across Canada.
“The First Nations Policing Program is a critical service that protects the safety of Indigenous Peoples through culturally relevant policing,” Goodale said. “This new funding will be ongoing so communities can count on it for the long-term.”
The funding will include a 2.75% escalator in order to address inflation.
Minister Goodale has targeted these funds towards several key priorities: improving officer safety; improved equipment and higher officer salaries; and the creation of 110 new officer positions. In Budget 2017, $102 million was committed towards the FNPP. Today, $144.4 million was added to this amount, along with $44.8 million in funding for 110 new officer positions beginning in the 2019-2020 fiscal year, for a total of $291.2 million in new funding.
Public Safety Canada officials will begin discussions with provinces, territories, and agreement holders to work towards new agreements. Public Safety Canada hopes to conclude these discussions prior to the April 1st deadline on the previous agreement. However, the option for a one-year extension on the current agreement is also available. The governments of Canada and Ontario have a cost sharing agreement which funds the First Nations Policing Program; Canada is to contribute 52% and Ontario to fund the remaining 48%.
Six Nations Police Chief Glenn Lickers said “Todays announcement is certainly encouraging. As we were fast approaching the April 1st date of a new Policing Agreement I was concerned that we had not heard anything as far as the federal government’s position. Based on our past experience of seeing little if any increase to our budget in our Agreement, today’s announcement was a welcome surprise. What that means for us remains to be seen but I am optimistic that not only is there a desire to increase our resources, there is now a budget. Our negotiating team will be meeting with our provincial and federal counterparts in the near future. As a First Nation Service essential to the safety and overall health of our community, we will focus on our needs that will allow us to provide the kind of service our community expects and deserves. Of those needs, the wellness of our officers is paramount.”
Nishnawbe Aski Nation (NAN) Grand Chief Alvin Fiddler said “I am pleased with today’s announcement, committing an additional $189.2 million (over five years) to $102 million committed to policing in Indigenous communities in Budget 2017. I am also encouraged that the Minister has reiterated his commitment to helping First Nation police services like the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service become fully designated by the rule of law. Today’s announcement sets a positive tone for the next round of funding negotiations. We look forward to continuing our progress with our federal and provincial Treaty partners on the designation of the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service as a fully mandated essential service, instead of being run as a program at the whim of these governments. In the meantime, these additional funds will help to increase the safety and security of our community members and officers.”
The Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service (NAPS) is the largest First Nations police service in Canada and the second largest First Nations police service in North America, employing more than 134 uniform officers and 30 civilians. Based in Thunder Bay, NAPS polices 35 communities across NAN territory, which encompasses nearly two-thirds of the Province of Ontario.