We’re studying whether a made-in-Alberta provincial police service can improve public safety and build safer communities for everyone in Alberta, no matter where they live.
This process builds on the findings of PriceWaterhouseCoopers' report released in 2021 and is an opportunity to look at new ways to improve services that could better address root causes of crime, increase accountability, and put more frontline personnel in communities at equal or lower cost.
No final decisions have been made about proceeding with an Alberta Police Service. We will determine next steps after reviewing all information and after further engagement with Albertans.
Future of Alberta policing
Please visit FutureofABpolicing.ca to learn about the ongoing provincial and national discussion that is taking place about policing, including the possibility of establishing an Alberta provincial police service.
Potential key benefits
We have a responsibility to explore new ways of policing to meet the needs of a modern Alberta and improve the safety and security of Albertans and their property.
The PwC report suggests the following potential benefits of implementing an Alberta Police Service model:
More frontline staff
An Alberta Police Service would have more frontline officers stationed in communities across Alberta than the RCMP currently does.
The proposed model has ways for communities to work closely with the police so local service levels better meet their needs.
Under the proposed model, successful provincial initiatives like Alberta Law Enforcement Response Teams (ALERT), would be expanded to combat complex crime that crosses borders, as well as improve their reach in rural Alberta.
The policing model presented by PwC Canada shows that a new provincial police service could operate at a cost comparable to the current cost of the RCMP’s provincial and municipal contract operations in Alberta.
At the same time, Alberta communities would gain a greater say in determining future policing costs than they do under the current RCMP model, where the federal government has most of the say.
The proposed Alberta Police Service model would establish a provincial police commission and local police commissions to increase the role Alberta communities have in setting policing priorities.
If the province adopts the proposed model, we would absorb RCMP policing costs currently covered by the federal government without raising taxes or imposing additional policing costs on municipalities.
Empowering Indigenous communities
The model proposed by PwC presents an opportunity to reimagine policing in Indigenous communities by working closely with them to realize their ambitions and recognize their distinct needs.
Under the proposed model, Indigenous communities that want to establish a self-administered police service would maintain the ability to do so, just as they have today.
In fact, the model goes a step further and envisions a provincial police service that would actively support the creation of First Nations police services and work with them to ensure their continued viability.
A stronger voice for municipalities
It’s important for all municipalities in Alberta to have the same high level of service and accountability.
Under the proposed provincial policing model, local police commissions would be established to give municipalities a stronger voice and lay the groundwork for community policing that’s more aligned with community priorities.
Local police commissions would:
- work with their detachment commander to set priorities for community policing and community safety
- formally participate in selecting the detachment commander
- monitor the local detachment’s performance in meeting community policing priorities, via regular reports from the detachment commander
- provide regular updates about local police performance and priorities to a provincial police commission
Mental health and addictions teams
The policing model proposes establishing multi-disciplinary teams specializing in mental health, addictions and family crises. Under this model, nurses, mental health professionals and social workers would be a part of the police service, rather than working alongside it.
Having mental health specialists available to respond alongside officers can help the police better address root causes of crime and divert vulnerable people away from the criminal justice system. This could make our communities safer while reducing the strain on Alberta’s courts.
The RCMP currently deploys mental health workers with police officers in Regional Police and Crisis Teams in 14 detachments out of 113 in Alberta. The provincial police service model envisions having this capacity in all areas of Alberta.
Career growth and fewer transfers
Effective community policing comes from having officers with a strong knowledge of their surroundings and a solid understanding of local issues.
Under the proposed policing model, recruiting policies would focus on candidates who would like to stay in Alberta. An Alberta provincial police service would give experienced officers an opportunity to advance their careers where they are, instead of having to transfer somewhere else to do so.
Rural communities could then benefit from the institutional knowledge and specialized skills of these experienced officers.
Listening to Albertans
We have held meetings across the province, asking stakeholders in urban, rural and Indigenous communities for their opinions on the proposed policing model and concepts presented in PwC Canada’s provincial police study.
Invitations were sent to more than 317 municipalities policed by the RCMP (either under municipal policing contracts or the Provincial Police Service Agreement), 48 First Nations, and 8 Metis Settlements. Law enforcement agencies and public safety partners, such as search-and-rescue groups and rural crime watch organizations, were also included.
- 14 virtual sessions were held in November and December 2021.
- 60 virtual and in-person sessions were held between January and April 2022 with municipal, Metis, First Nations, and public safety stakeholders.
- These sessions included discussions on the topics of:
- governance and oversight, staffing, mental health and deployment
- integration with other police services and Indigenous policing options
- operating costs and the transition process
- background and context on policing in Alberta, including federal, provincial and municipal responsibilities
The public will also have opportunities to get involved later this year.
How we got here
We hired PwC Canada to conduct a study between October 2020 and April 2021 to determine if a made-in-Alberta police service was feasible and to develop a proposed policing model. Their report found the concept of an Alberta Police Service was realistic, cost-effective and worth more study. After a thorough analysis of the report, we decided to explore the idea further.
Since that time, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Saskatchewan have also decided to examine the feasibility of replacing the RCMP with a provincial police service. In B.C., an all-party committee of MLAs released a report in April 2022 that recommends transitioning from the RCMP to a provincial police service. The city of Surrey, B.C. is in the process of replacing the RCMP with a municipal police service, and several municipalities in the Maritimes are also exploring this idea.
At the federal level, a House of Commons committee released a report in June 2021 that examined systemic racism in policing in Canada. One of the committee’s findings was that the RCMP’s contract policing role makes it difficult for the organization to focus on community policing across the country and provide effective federal policing at the same time. The committee recommended that the federal government should explore the possibility of ending RCMP contract policing and work with provinces, territories and municipalities interested in establishing their own police services.
Our provincial police service engagement is hearing from stakeholders in urban, rural and Indigenous communities, gathering their opinions based on lived experience on the proposed policing model and concepts developed by PwC Canada.
Following the engagement, we will review and consider all information before determining whether to proceed with creating an Alberta Police Service.
- Report explores benefits of provincial police service (October 29, 2021)