Canada

Ottawa police warn 2022 budget freeze would result in 140 job cuts

OTTAWA —
The Ottawa Police Service warns a budget freeze for 2022 would result in the elimination of 140 officers, longer response times and the suspension of all recruiting, hiring and promotions.

A report for Monday’s Ottawa Police Services Board meeting looks at three options for the 2022 Operating Budget for the Ottawa Police Service: a zero per cent increase in funding, a 1.5 per cent increase in funding and a three per cent increase.

When the Ottawa Police Services Board approved the 2021 budget, a motion was passed asking the Finance and Audit Committee to determine how the 2022 Ottawa Police budget could be reduced or frozen at 2021 levels. The 2021 Ottawa Police operating budget is $332.5 million.

Staff say a zero per cent increase in the Ottawa Police levy for 2022 would result in a $13.5 million deficit in the Ottawa Public Budget, “Which is equivalent to 130-140 FTEs and represents a major reduction in OPS capacity and service delivery.”

The report suggests a zero per cent increase in funding would have a “major” impact on service delivery, organization capacity and delivery impacts.

Staff say a zero per cent increase would result in the “elimination and/or significant reduction of all non-essential, non-legislated and/or non-priority directorates/units/sections/positions.” The report adds there would be a suspension of all recruiting, hiring and promotions and the cancellation of any planned expansion and enhancement of services.

With a base salary of $100,000 for each officer, police say the service would need to eliminate 10 police officer positions for each $1 million reduced from the budget.

“There are very few remaining civilian members who can be reduced because, over the last decade, the OPS has already reduced the operating budget by $20 million mostly through back and middle office efficiency reviews,” says the report.

A 1.5 per cent increase in the police levy would result in a $6.75 million deficit in the OPS budget in 2022, which staff say would result in 60 to 70 job cuts. The report says there would be a suspension of all hiring, promotions and recruiting and delayed expansion/enhancement of services in Neighbourhood Resource Teams and the Traffic Services Unit.

If police receive a 3 per cent increase in the police levy, the service would still be facing a $2.3 million deficit in 2022.

The police service had been hoping for a 3.6 per cent increase in funding next year. The report says a 3 per cent increase in the tax levy would have a “moderate” impact on potential service delivery, including delaying new initiatives with the traffic unit and the newly created Unsolved Homicide Section.

Ottawa Police say 81 per cent of its operating budget is spent on salaries and benefits, which is the result of contract agreements between the board and the Ottawa Police Association. Three per cent of the budget is spent on city costs, such as facility management and utilities, fleet maintenance, legal and procurement.

Ottawa City Council approved the 2022 budget directions on Wednesday, which included a three per cent increase in the police levy next year.

Council deferred a motion from Councillors Shawn Menard and Catherine McKenney for a zero per cent increase in the police levy until the fall budget deliberations.


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