ANTIGONISH: Retroactive RCMP pay is being placed on the backs of the municipalities that utilize their services.
In a recent announcement, the federal government announced it wouldn’t be on the hook for covering the payments, which places the responsibility in the hands of local municipalities who have until March 31, 2025 to make the payments.
Municipalities were made aware that this possibility might occur, and as a precaution, the Town of Antigonish has set aside $161,000 over the past two years in anticipation of the event the federal government made this exact decision.
Following the town’s regular, monthly council meeting April 17, in speaking on the budget, Mayor Laurie Boucher advised the RCMP retroactive pay is one of the challenges they will face.
“Not only does cost of living affect our residence in their day-to-day lives, but it also affects municipal projects, infrastructure and the work going forward when we are looking for RFPs to do infrastructure work in the town,” Boucher said. “Those cost of living, directly affects our budgeting, so we’ll see how that fares out this year, once the budget does get to the stage where council gets to look at it.”
The federal government’s decision will cost the Town of Antigonish $268,985.67 on top of its already existing policing budget.
A number of municipalities facing the retroactive bill are appealing to the Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) to have some say when making decisions that directly impact communities in the future.
During the county’s regular, monthly council meeting on April 18, councillors voted to send a letter to the Prime Minister, the Minister of Public Safety Canada and to their local MPs expressing their opposition and disappointment in the federal government’s decision to put a six year retroactive bill onto the municipality.
“We’re very concerned about that, so the increase this year, represents a six per cent increase, this year alone,” McCarron said. “But when you go back six or seven years, to look at the retroactive for the collective agreement the federal government settled on with its members, nowhere through that process were we involved or there were any indication this cost was going to come to municipalities.”
While the municipality has not been informed the exact amount they will be required to pay, it’s estimated to be upwards of $100,000 this year alone, resulting in an overall bill that could be pushing $750,000.
“We’re going to continue to push this as we weren’t part of those negotiations,” McCarron said. “We were mindful the potential was there, so our financial capacity, is such that we will be able to deal with it. It’ll come at a cost to other things however,
Geoff Stewart, FCM second vice-president, was disappointed with the federal government’s decision.
“This action is comparable to having someone spend your money without discussing it with you,” Stewart said in a press release.
McCarron suggested their first push would be to see if the federal government would reconsider the significant increase.
“To let that go, that many years without it being settled, is not fair either,” the warden said. “Our letter will highlight the fact we have a concern with the retroactive and feel the federal government should pick it up.”