The province has reformed its Police Act. Still, Bruce Chapman from the Police Association of Ontario says policing costs are on the rise, due to mental health calls.

"It used to be one in 20 calls, now it's one in six. So, of course, with that costs rise," he said.

If ratepayers want lower costs, then police officers want to see governments invest more in social services.

"If we had the proper resources, people would not go into crisis. People would not go homeless," Chapman added.

He noted significant challenges remain:
  • outsourced policing functions to private companies are not subject to oversight of public bodies, and
  • oversight agencies have not been required to abide by legislative timeline requirements,
  • subjecting policing professionals to unfair and wasteful administrative delays.

However, the province's association for police service boards applauds the new law called the Safer Ontario Act.

“Ontario taxpayers pay the highest per-capita cost for policing in all of Canada, even though we have the lowest crime rates.  With the Safer Ontario Act, communities will now be able to more efficiently and effectively cooperate with partners to take advantage of cost savings that will benefit budgets while letting police officers get back to doing what they do best," says Fred Kaustinen, executive director for the association.

The association says legislation addresses several major priorities:

  • Increasing transparency and accountability around investigations of police wrongdoing
  • Giving police chiefs the power to suspend without pay officers accused of the most serious crimes, something chiefs can do in every other province
  • Allowing police officers to focus on core functions that require the use of police powers, rather than administrative tasks or traffic control duties
  • Modernizing police labour relations practices
  • Introducing Mandatory Governance training for police board members.

According to the Kenora detachment of the OPP’s financial report, the City of Kenora will be paying more for police services in 2018.

  • Costs for 2017 are projected to come in at roughly $5,684,673.
  • Costs for 2018 are expected to reach a total of $5,729,785, an increase of more than $45,000.
  • Costs for 2015 were estimated at $6,464,472.

The OPP's billing model was changed in 2015. The new formula is based on per-household, as well as calls for service. Kenora ratepayers are hoping to see a reduction in policing costs, spread over a five-year period.

Kenora Mayor Dave Canfield thinks the new legislation will allow police services to provide more specialized services, especially to combat the growing area of cybercrime.

"You'd have a lot more production and a lot more success in bringing down these criminals, as opposed to having these frontline police officers be trained," he said.

In 2017:

  • Fire and police services amounted to $8.8 million
  • The total budget of $29.4 million at the City of Kenora,
  • Protection services of $8.8 million were about 30 per cent of expenditures
  • Police services of $5.7 million were about 20 per cent of expenditures

Home owners in Kenora saw their property taxes go up about $91 last year. With the increase in assessment, a home owner paid about $2,630 in taxes on a home worth about $210,000 in 2017. In 2016, the same home was worth about $200,000, and the owner paid $2,539 in taxes.

However, Kenora Mayor Dave Canfield is worried Queen's Park may impose a new model. Queen's Park is looking for municipalities, where firefighters trained as paramedics could work 24-hour shifts. The mayor is also concerned cross-trained firefighters might be eligible for future contract arbitration awards the city can't afford. This would, in turn, bring with it added costs for ratepayers.

At the same time, members of the firefighters association are backing a provincial initiative. The Ontario Firefighters Association says it would offer municipalities additional funding.

Eric Nordlund from the association says firefighters trained as paramedics could handle more calls. Depending on the local agreement, firefighters respond to calls, when ambulance crews aren't available. It's also possible the province would pick up half the cost for firefighters offering paramedic services.

For more information:

Police Association of Ontario -- Bill 175 disappoints

OAPSB applauds passage of Safer Ontario Act

Ontario Firefighters Association - Sign the petition (Bill 160)

City of Kenora - Feb. 20 Committee of the Whole agenda

Kenora spending under budget

Teachers, paramedics, firefighters make this year's Sunshine List

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