Mayor Ken Popove, chairs the March 17, 2020 council meeting. (City of Chilliwack video screenshot)

City of Chilliwack watching RCMP unionization process carefully

‘We know that this will impact our RCMP contract once an agreement is reached’ – Mayor Ken Popove

City of Chilliwack officials are keeping a close eye on the RCMP unionization process knowing there could be future budget implications.

“We have been following the developments related to the unionization of RCMP members and know that this will impact our RCMP contract once an agreement is reached,” Mayor Ken Popove said.

It is not known when a collective agreement for rank-and-file Mounties will be finalized, according to an update from the Union of B.C. Municipalities (UBCM), but local governments have been advised to budget for anticipated increases ahead of time.

“We have been cautious with future estimates as we do not want to create tax increases that may be premature at this time,” Popove said.

Current practice at city hall is to budget incremental RCMP contract increases into the financial plan in anticipation, and to place any contract savings aside in reserve to help offset costs of future outcomes. There has also been a “pay-as-you-go” fiscal philosophy at Chilliwack City Hall for several administrations now.

“We will continue to watch for new developments and will make necessary budgetary amendments during our financial planning process,” Popove added.

The UBCM has been advocating for local government input into the bargaining process for RCMP members. Negotiations have been ongoing between the federal Treasury Board, and the National Police Federation (NPF), which became the bargaining agent representing RCMP in 2019.

While specific details around bargaining have not been released, “pay, resource levels and benefits” have been identified by RCMP as high priorities.

“While RCMP National Headquarters has instructed Divisions to project a 2.5 per cent per year pay increase retroactive to January 1, 2017, the current comparator police universe salaries suggest this annual projected rate is insufficient,” according to the UBCM release. “As such, local governments that utilize RCMP services are being advised to set aside additional funds in anticipation of higher costs, most notably increases to RCMP member remuneration.”

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, it was expected that a collective agreement would be signed in 2020.

The most recent RCMP member pay package expired on January 1, 2017, with local governments advised to hold budget savings in reserve for when a new pay package and/or contract is finalized, according to UBCM documents.

RCMP officials have estimated an annual member pay increase of 2.5 per cent, although rates and provisions of a contract could increase the retroactive pay impact beyond RCMP estimates.

READ MORE: RCMP looking at systemic sustainability

READ MORE: Police force for Surrey approved

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