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Federal dollars dry up for police service

Federal funding that has offset costs for four officers will dry up at the end of March 2013, according to Greater Sudbury Police Chief Frank Elsner.
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The Greater Sudbury Police Service will lose some $280,000 in government funding in 2013 when a federal funding program for police officers runs out.
Federal funding that has offset costs for four officers will dry up at the end of March 2013, according to Greater Sudbury Police Chief Frank Elsner.

Under the Police Officers Recruitment Fund, implemented in 2008, the local police service has been reimbursed for salary-related costs for four officers to a maximum of $70,000 per year for a five-year period. The federal government set aside $400 million in its 2008 budget to assist provinces and territories in recruiting 2,500 new front line officers — Ontario's share of that fund totalled $156 million.

A lot of “hot and heavy” negotiating took place for Greater Sudbury Police Service to get its “fair share” of the fund, Elsner said. It was following the last federal election that it was announced “there are no plans to extend the program beyond the five years approved,” Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety, said in a letter to the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police.

“As you know, policing is a provincial responsibility, the objective of the fund was to provide a one-time support and complement the costs of recent provincial police recruitment initiatives,” Toews wrote.

The change in funding won't result in any layoffs, Elsner confirmed. Rather, the police services board will have to look at incorporating the salaries into its 2013 budget.

“Will this hurt us? It absolutely will,” Elsner said. “The board has to make some decisions to determine if we can afford to continue paying these positions without that offset. If the answer is no, then we'll have to look at downsizing the service, but through attrition.”

GSPS is a large enough organization that it has enough people “coming and going” that eliminating positions wouldn't have to be done through early retirement. Instead, when officers do retire, those positions won't be refilled.

“I was very disappointed with the announcement (that the federal government wasn't going to extend the fund),” Elsner said. “We've come to rely on that money, and I think the government got good bang for its dollar. We were thankful for the funding, but it would have been nice to continue.”

A lot of offsets are provided to the police service through the provincial government, and that government has committed to that in perpetuity, Elsner said.

Posted by Mark Gentili

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