NDP Justice Critic Irfan Sabir said Albertan families could be facing a big dent in their bank accounts if the UCP pushes forward with its plans for a new provincial police service.
The PWC report says it would cost $241 million in operating costs, and $125 million in capital. That's $366 million in total, and if the province establishes its own police, it's possible that we would also lose the $170 million in annual funding for the RCMP from the Federal Government. This means that over six years, the cost is $1.368 billion.
Where would the government get the money to fund this? Sabir said the NDP's model of calculation is based off of increasing property taxes, since he says the only other way to absorb this cost would be slashing services. With that in mind, Albertans could be seeing a sharp increase in taxes. For a family of four, the following communities would pay this much in additional taxes:
- Strathmore: $2,616
- Canmore: $10,400
- Chestermere: $3,852
- Cochrane: $3,668
- Airdrie: $3,644
"These are punishing costs for Albertans who are trying to survive the worst cost of living crisis in 40 years. The UCP has already raised income tax, property taxes, school fees, tuition fees, interest on student loans, utilities and car insurance. Now they want Albertans to pay even more for a UCP police force they don't want." Sabir said.
Sabir added the UCP isn't listening to Albertans, since dozens of communities have already spoken out against the idea. UCP Justice Minister Tyler Shandro toured the province to explain the details, but that only made the backlash stronger.
“Even more communities joined the call to drop this terrible idea. Who can blame them?”
Sabir added that the UCP should instead focus their energy on serious problems like violent crimes rather than focusing on a police service he says nobody wants. He said he spoke with Calgary Police, who outlined three things that the government should be doing, which was:
- Control gun crime, "We used to see a knife pulled out or machete pulled out in fights, now we are seeing guns getting pulled out," Sabir said.
- Mental health supports, "Over the period of the last two years in particular, mental health issues have gotten worse. We need to focus on addressing addiction and mental health issues."
- Increasing efficiency in the justice system. "Due to the pandemic, many processes in court didn't go through as planned, so we need a more effective functional justice system, fully resourced justice system, that can make sure that those who commit crimes can be brought to justice," Sabir said.
On top of these concerns, Sabir worries that these issues won't be resolved anytime soon.
“Unfortunately, this foolishness isn’t going to end on October 6. Every one of the leading UCP leadership candidates has promised to move forward with the UCP police. That means whoever becomes premier in October, they will force hundreds of millions of dollars of new property taxes onto Alberta families and they will continue to ignore the rising problem of gun violence in our communities."
In response to Shandro's earlier comments that the Federal Government is trying to pull out of the RCMP contracts, Sabir said this isn't true.
"I haven't heard that, and I know of no one who has heard that other than Tyler Shandro."
Sabir concluded by saying if the NDP wins the next provincial election, this idea will be dropped.
“I promise you that an NDP government will drop this expensive and stupid idea. We will focus on what matters to Albertans, which means feeling safe in your home, your communities, and moving around the city.”