Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale speaks during an announcement of increased funding for First Nations policing at the Neeginan Centre on Higgins Avenue in Winnipeg on Wed., Jan. 10, 2018, with Winnipeg Centre MP Robert-Falcon Ouellette (left) listening in. Kevin King/Winnipeg Sun/Postmedia Network The federal government pledged an additional $291 million in funding for Indigenous policing, a cash infusion they say represents a “quantum leap forward” for the safety of First Nations and Inuit communities.
Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale made the announcement Wednesday at the Neeginan Centre in Winnipeg, He said the bump would be spread over five years to some 450 communities covering over 400,000 people served through the First Nations Policing Program.
“The program works. It simply needs to have more horsepower behind it, which comes from better financing,” Goodale said. “We expect the policing service to be invigorated by the extra resources that we’re putting in today and contribute to a higher standard of public safety and security.”
The total includes $102 million proposed in the 2017 budget, $144 million to support priorities such as officer safety, policing equipment and salaries, starting in 2018-19, and $44.8 million, starting in 2019-2020, for up to 110 additional positions. It will also be indexed at 2.75% to address inflation.
The FNPP has been around since 1991, and covers both communities managing their own police services and those where the Royal Canadian Mounted Police provide the service.
“It’s a great step forward that’s very well received by policing, not only the RCMP but a lot of self-administered police forces across the country as well,” said Scott Kolody, commanding officer for Manitoba RCMP.
Rich Head, chief of the Dakota Ojibway Police Service, which has 36 officers and six reservists shared across six detachments in Manitoba, agreed.
“I’m pleased to see they’re looking at moving things along in the future to declare policing in First Nations communities as an essential service. I think that’s very important,” he said.
Agreements through the FNPP have been five years in length, with the next due date for renewal on April 1. The federal government covers 52% of the cost of those agreements, with the remaining 48% falling to the provinces, who will be expected to increase their contributions to keep pace.
“This is a discussion that the provinces are well aware of in terms of plans and preparation for it,” Goodale said. “What they’ve been waiting for is the federal government to specify the federal commitment so that would know what their obligations are. This is not a surprise to anyone.”
A spokesperson for provincial Justice Minister Heather Stefanson said they are awaiting further details on what the announcement will mean for Manitoba, and will be “participating fully” in the negotiations to ensure its interests and that of indigenous communities are reflected in the final agreement.
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