Many of you will know that as your Member of Parliament, one of my duties in Ottawa is serving as the Chair of the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. Our committee is engaged in a study of the Economics of Policing in Canada.
We are at a critical juncture when it comes to preparing for the future of policing in Canada. Our protective services can’t sustain the current rate of spending increases. All levels of government are facing difficult annual budgetary challenges. Canadian taxpayers are looking forward to a balanced federal budget. Police service operating expenditures totaled $6.8 billion in 2000 and grew to $12.6 billion in 2010. Our committee is taking proactive action to present the government with a report on the economics of policing in the future. We are conducting public hearings and expert witnesses in Canada as well as other jurisdictions are testifying.
The economics of policing is a pressing issue in Canada and around the world. Among the many factors driving up policing costs is the emergence of new types of crime that the RCMP has the responsibility to investigate. These include: financial and commercial crime; cybercrime; the globalization of organized crime; terrorism threats; and, offences that threaten the security of our borders.
At the local level, we can see in our own communities that the nature of policing could change to allow other organizations to have roles they are prepared to fulfill in support of protecting and serving citizens. There is a great deal of work that we can do to enhance policing.
The Minister of Public Safety and National Security, the Honourable Vic Toews, was the first witness our committee heard. He encouraged us to present him with a report that will help his department – and Canada – “get ahead of the curve” in preparing and paying for the police services we value.
In January, the Minister hosted an international summit on the costs of policing. This matter is an on-going concern for Canada’s own Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers of Public Safety and Justice Working Group. Our committee is hearing from key stakeholders including: the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police; the Canadian Police Association; the Canadian Association of Police Boards; the RCMP and other police forces in Canada; the Federation of Canadian Municipalities; and others.
In the near future, I will lead a delegation from our committee to the United Kingdom to see first-hand their implementation of a radically reformed policing model adapted to the same challenges that we face in Canada. As well, we will spend a few days meeting officials in San Diego, Los Angeles and San Francisco. These police forces have introduced award-winning community-oriented policing strategies. We need to ensure that policing in Canada remains sustainable now and in the future while ensuring that Canadians have confidence in all of our police services.