Peel Regional Police in the dark about provincial cuts to service
Amid a climate of uncertainty about public safety in the Region of Peel, the municipality’s police service is in the dark about potential implications of provincial spending cuts to regional services, which include, but are not limited to, policing.
“It is still unclear what the funding formulas are going to look like for 2020 and we are unable to gauge the impact until all the information becomes available,” said Staff Sgt. Adrian Adore, who works in PRP’s corporate communications office.
At a May 9 regional council meeting, regional financial planner Norman Lum provided members with a rundown of how exactly Peel staff expect the cuts to play out across the municipalities. Peel police only serves Brampton and Mississauga. Caledon is policed by the Ontario Provincial Police. His presentation painted a bleak scenario for the region, one that is already struggling to reconcile provincial cuts on multiple fronts. Council also has to contend with the regional review, one that could dissolve Peel completely. Lum spoke to a $45.1 million shortfall between now and 2021, $20 million of which affecting early childcare services such as EarlyOn Child and Family Centres, creating an impact of $81 per person per year. At council’s latest meeting, it was shared that the blow has been lessened slightly to approximately $40 million in cuts.
2019 Peel Police Budget
Among the cuts was a $2.6 million blow to Peel Regional Police’s “prisoner transport and other funds.” It is not known yet what “other funds” the regional presentation was referring to, but prisoner transport is an essential statutory service that has to be provided. Peel police is responsible for moving those charged with crimes back and forth between their place of detention and court while they are standing trial or for other appearances.
The cuts would see Queen’s Park’s contribution to Peel policing shrink from $17.2 million down to $14.6 million. The potential budget shortfall comes months after acting chief Chris McCord reported a “very, very small deficit” of $17,000 to Regional Council, forcing police to dip into reserve funds. The regional tax supported portion of the 2019 Peel police budget was approved at $423.1 million, a 5.4 percent increase from 2018 (almost three times the rate of inflation in Ontario), but as the population continues to grow, and if violent crime continues to rise, budgetary pressures from the province and at the Region, could put expanded policing initiatives in jeopardy.
The news from Queen’s Park comes as concern across Brampton and Mississauga mounts over the recent spike in violent crime.
Between 2015 and 2016, youth crime also increased by 25.3 percent and has continued to rise in the past two years since by 10 percent annually.
In 2017, the latest available data, there were 40 shootings reported within the region, two more than the previous year and 16 more than in 2015. Stabbings have actually gone down between 2016 and 2017. There were 196 knife crimes resulting in injury in 2016 dropping down to 156 the following year.
More recent acts of violence in Peel include a homicide in Brampton where 82-year-old Bao Lian Li’s body was found in a Bramalea area home. Lu Hong Liang, 81, the alleged victim’s husband, was charged with second-degree murder in relation to the death and he appeared in court on May 13.
Financial impacts on other police services are beginning to materialize across the province as a result of cuts by the PC government. Waterloo Regional Police Service is reporting an $800,000 financial shortfall after it became clear that provincial contributions to the service will go from $3.3 million to $2.5 million. “Ninety-six to 97 percent of the funding comes from the municipality, it comes from the citizens,” Chief Bryan Larkin explained to the CBC. Historically, according to Larkin, provincial funding to police services in Ontario have been inadequate, forcing municipalities to foot the bill.
“Yet a lot of the work that we do are based on provincial and federal initiatives and legislation that is controlled federally and provincially, where the municipality has no control. London Police Service is another that’s losing out on funding. Their provincial grant was expected to be $2.5 million but will now be $1.9 million, an approximate loss of $638,000.
LPS Deputy Chief Daryl Longworth told CTV, “Now to look at further drastic cuts, there are going to be serious implications, hard decisions will have to be made, but we will have to do the best we can and maybe disappoint the public with regards to customer service.”
Barrie Mayor Jeff Lehman has been one of the most outspoken critics of the PC cuts to policing.
“In the midst of an opioid crisis in which the Police are front line workers, it’s absolutely ridiculous that the Conservative Government would cut funding. Are you going to accept this?” he posted on Facebook. “I’m not.” He said the city expects to lose at least $700,000 in funding for policing.
McCord, who was named as the acting chief in Peel after Jennifer Evans resigned and stepped down in January, has not taken the same strong stand on the cuts as other chiefs across the province, but Peel Region’s Chair has been clear about his feelings on the moves being made by Ford and his government.
Peel Chair Nando Iannicca
“Government at the end of the day is about allocating scarce resources, where they [the province] are today is allocating those resources somewhere else and getting a pat on the back and they have us dealing with this,” Peel Chair Nando Iannicca said at the May 9 council meeting.
“Our job is to advocate to our citizens and have them storm the palace gates. That’s the only way that we win,” he summed up.
Last week, Peel Regional Council outlined a PR campaigns it’s about to launch to inform the public about the direct impacts the Doug Ford PC government’s cuts will have on Peel residents. The $40 million loss in funding will not just affect public safety, it will hit preventative healthcare initiatives, early childcare, private water testing, restaurant inspections and other crucial work the region does.
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