Friday, June 18, 2010

Does RCMP give value for our money?

I wonder: have our public institutions lost the ability to do an excellent job on, well, anything? Whether it’s eHealth Ontario or Atomic Energy of Canada, Ontario Lottery and Gaming Corporation or the Quebec government and Quebec police forces vis-à-vis Quebec’s corrupt construction industry, we seem to have massive failures at every turn.

And now we see, once again, that our national security agencies are not up to the job. Commissioner John Major has detailed a litany of high-level failures in the Air India disaster, both before Sikh terrorists bombed Flight 182 and in the tragedy’s aftermath—lax airport security, poor information sharing (sound familiar?), evidence mishandling, government interference and the list goes on.

How many times will the RCMP continue to fail us and be allowed to continue to exist in its present form? And as a reward for past failures, our federal government, apparently, plans to allow this outfit to unionize.

Back in the 1970s the McDonald Commission recommend that the RCMP’s intelligences duties be split off because of crimes and other abuses. This week we have the Commission of Inquiry into the Investigation of the Bombing of Air India Flight 182 telling us we need to put them back together under unified leadership to resolve disputes among CSIS and the RCMP. The Commission also has suggested that the RCMP is not properly structured to deal with terrorism prosecutions, and questions whether it’s time to reassess the practice of the RCMP providing contractual services to the provinces.

What Canadians need to be told is what, if anything, the RCMP does really well anymore. If you read the content of this “Independent Report concerning Workplace Issues at the Royal Canadian Mounted Police” you’ll know that list will likely be short.

We know that an RCMP officer with three years experience is paid a base of about $75,000 a year plus generous allowances and can retire in his or her mid-fifties with a terrific pension—25 years of service gets 50 per cent of recent salary, after 35 years it’s 70 per cent—which is far better than most private sector pensions. Any work beyond a regular 40-hour week is paid at 1.5x the regular rate, and on days off, 2x the regular rate.

As you might expect for any public employee these days, health, dental and other benefits are exceptional when compared to the private sector. The force offers exceptional parental leave—up to 93 per cent of salary for 52 weeks for new mothers, fathers and adoptive parents. And its drug plan covers prescription costs at 100 per cent, its eyewear plan is generous and its paid leave programs are “second to none” according to RCMP Superintendent Mike Gaudet.

I’m beginning to wonder if we are receiving value for our money?

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© 2010 Russell G. Campbell
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  1. Here is the problem. When people in private industry fail they lose out to better run competitors and go out of business(unless they get a government bail out).

    When government fails they have no competition so they just throw more money at it. This does not solve anything it just makes it more expensive.

  2. I once was planning a major event for my community that would draw approx 50,000 spectators. We needed security and we were in the RCMP's jurisdiction.

    It was an absolute nightmare dealing with them. Not only were we required to pay them $76/hour because they will no longer support community events without compensation but then they showed up and refused to listen to our needs.

    They refused to show up for the emergency planning meeting, they refused to acknowledge our emergency plan at all and when we insisted, they accused us of being unprofessional. "We have our own plan that will be activated in the event..." Does your plan involve the evacuation of 50,000 on the site we are using with the resources we will have available, we asked. Our plan is adequate, we were told.

    We found ourselves regularly having to tell them that smoking anywhere was not allowed, we have designated smoking areas - and we were ignored. They were supposed to be enforcing the rules but instead were the biggest rule breakers. It didn't matter that they had been "hired" to work for us, they still arrived thinking they were above the law and we're not going to take orders from mere civilians.

    Needless to say...this event continues yearly and we no longer involve the RCMP. Should anything occur, we will dial 911 and their members will arrive without any preparation because they will not be on site to know.

    The sergeant in charge of the detachment operates as though he has his own little empire. Once a member in his detachment was accused of spousal abuse, it was covered up until the wife brought in a neighbouring police force. The sergeant admitted under oath that he was involved in the cover up and...he is still in charge, several years later.

    You have done a very good job of highlighting the benefits the RCMP are entitled to...way beyond the private sector and yet they still think they need to unionize? Why? What more could they possibly want? What injustices are there in the workplace that need fixing when they clearly work within their own set of rules.


  3. The RCMP,although the best dressed is the force of last resort...Who wants to be knocking on some door in Inuvik to break up some domestic disturburbance knowing full well that your nearest back-up is 100 kilometres away.....or handing speeding tickets when drug dealers operate without interference.Let's face it,if it wasn't for the musical ride,the only time the RCMP is in the news is when they screw up....something they do quite frequently.The RCMP is a top heavy bureaucratic organization which is quickly becoming a national embarassment.

  4. A relevant post at Unambiguously Ambidextrous:

    "Abolish the RCCP

    That’s the Royal Canadian Contract Police..."


  5. There needs to be a serious re-examination of the role of the RCMP. Many of the functions served by RCMP officers can be taken over by provincial police forces or American-style Sheriffs for rural areas. The RCMP needs to be transformed into a modern, effective national agency along the likes of the FBI and Scotland Yard in order to focus on national threats. I also think CSIS should become more externally-focused like the CIA so that the two agencies aren't always feeling like the other is encroaching on its territory.

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