New numbers from RCMP show Manitoba has the highest vacancy rate for Mounties in the country.
Numbers from RCMP’s National Headquarters show Manitoba’s rate was at six per cent last year, which equals around 60 positions. The country’s average is 4.3 per cent.
“It’s a huge number and I will say it’s probably a little worse than that,” said Robert Farrer with the National Police Federation.
The low numbers are also a concern for some local municipalities in the province.
“It’s an ongoing chronic problem that we’ve had in our region,” said Brad Erb, the reeve of the RM of Macdonald.
He said he worries about response times and increasing crime coming out of the pandemic.
“It’s actually quite concerning, it’s becoming one of the main issues and one of the focal points of our community is crime, crime prevention and safety.”
Manitoba RCMP said vacancy rates have been steady over the last few years, but can change frequently because of transfers, promotions, retirements and new recruits.
The National RCMP said it is actively recruiting and changing its application process to attract new members.
“Like many other policing organizations, we are moving away from the use of polygraph but adopting other suitability screening tools,” the RCMP told CTV News.
The Manitoba government said the vacancy rate climbed during the pandemic and blames it on the closure of the training depot in Regina because of lockdowns.
“We have and will continue to raise serious concern with the federal government as the Manitoba government has allocated the funding for these positions,” a spokesperson said to CTV News.
The Mounties Union notes a policing career does not have the same allure it once did because of events elsewhere and says COVID-19 is taking a toll on officers, and so is overtime to fill vacancies.
“Lower numbers equal more overtime hours, which leads to more burnout. It sort of cycles in that way,” said Farrer.
The Association of Manitoba Municipalities says policing costs, including federally negotiated retroactive pay and unionization costs are also causing financial burdens, which may also lead to vacancies in municipalities.
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