Edmonton council cuts EPS budget increase by $11M in hopes of 'cultural shift'
Edmonton Police Service will receive less money than expected next year, after city council decided Wednesday to use $11 million from a planned budget increase for social services instead.
"Thirty-two per cent of the calls the Edmonton police take are not related to police work," Coun. Michael Janz said in the meeting.
"The police need to be out there doing police work, not doing social worker work."
Janz wanted council to scrap an approved $12-million increase in 2022, and instead freeze EPS' budget at $383 million per year.
Instead, council decided to fund an increase of just $1 million, so EPS can fund a previous commitment for statutory holiday pay on the National Day of Truth and Reconciliation.
A decision by the previous council had EPS in line to receive $395 million in 2022, up from $383 million in 2021 and $373 million in 2020.
Mayor Amarjeet Sohi voted in favour of the freeze, but when that motion failed, he agreed to go along with the $1 million increase.
Sohi said he valued the work of the police chief and his officers, but was also worried about the rate of increases in the police budget.
"Every other department over the last three years has tightened their belt. At the same time the police budget over the past three years has grown by two-and-a-half to three per cent. So there's a misalignment here," he said.
Five councillors voted against the plan, which passed 8-5.
Councillors Tim Cartmell, Andrew Knack and Sarah Hamilton all had concerns that the adjustment was happening too soon. Cartmell tried to have the budget freeze delayed until 2023
"That's a pretty big hit to figure out in the next two weeks. By delaying it for a year, but putting the police on notice that in a year it's going to be different, I think is the prudent way to go," Cartmell argued.
'EDMONTON HAS A CRIME PROBLEM'
Councillors Karen Principe and Jennifer Rice both expressed concerns about community safety and the process of cutting an increase that was already promised.
"I don't think it is right, or maybe it's not even ethical, to decrease a budget in a budget cycle. I think we need to delay this conversation," Principe told council.
Police Chief Dale McFee recently said his service needed the extra money, in part, to address a rise in crime severity downtown, as well as violence and disturbances at city transit centers.
“Let me make it abundantly clear: Edmonton has a crime problem that’s existed for many years,” McFee told councillors on Dec. 8. “One that simply moving money around won’t fix.”
Councillors Aaron Paquette, Anne Stevenson, Jo-Anne Wright, Keren Tang, Ashley Salvador and Erin Rutherford also voted for the $1 million increase plan along with Sohi and Janz.
The $11 million will now be held until council decides which housing, social services and crime prevention initiatives to fund.
"We heard from the chief of police that the biggest drivers of crime in Edmonton right now are issues related to mental health, trauma and addictions," Janz said.
"I want to make sure that we as a council work towards a reality where we have less work for police."
Several councillors said they wanted the city to focus more on crime prevention and social programs, and this budget adjustment was one way to make that shift happen.
"If we continue to give (EPS) money, we are absolutely not going to see a paradigm shift and a cultural shift that we are all anticipating," Coun. Rutherford said.
Salvador wants the money saved to be invested in mental health supports, addiction programs, youth groups, harm reduction and crisis diversion.
"If we want to prevent crime, we do need to be able to allocate funding to those preventative approaches," she said.
A recent city report concluded that Edmonton's "safety ecosystem desperately needs to be modernized."
Budget talks are expected to wrap up Friday as councillors debate a proposed 1.8 per cent tax increase.
Edmonton Top Stories
CTVNews.ca Top Stories
The U.S. Supreme Court has ended the nation's constitutional protections for abortion that had been in place nearly 50 years in a decision by its conservative majority to overturn Roe v. Wade. Friday's outcome is expected to lead to abortion bans in roughly half the states.
Canadian advocates are cautioning against complacency regarding abortions protections in place in Canada, after the U.S. Supreme court voted to overturn Roe v. Wade on Friday.
With the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to end constitutional protections for abortion, 26 states are likely to ban abortions; 13 of which are expected to enact bans against the medical procedure immediately.
Two people were killed and 14 wounded on Saturday in a shooting at a nightclub and in nearby streets in Norway's capital Oslo, Norwegian police said.
Miners working in a gold field in Yukon have uncovered what is being called the 'most complete' mummified woolly mammoth found to date in North America, officials announced on Friday.
An Ontario driver is speaking out after a shovel struck her windshield while she was driving on the highway.
The Calgary Seed Library is tackling issues surrounding food security and sustainability with its weekly seed exchange.
A woman at the centre of a child abuse case took the stand in her own trial. She told court why her nephews were found in an empty room, locked shut with rope.
In the town of Kerrobert Sask., with a population of just under 1000 people, a community came out for an event a century in the making.
Naomi and Al Hawkins say they were in “shock” and “alarmed” when they heard that the man who took care of their son at a group home in Hepburn, Sask. was facing several sexual assault charges.
'A powerful, photogenic storm': More than 20 tornado warnings issued during stormy Saskatchewan night
Saskatchewan's skies lived up to its moniker Thursday night, creating some picturesque storm clouds.
The Regina Board of Education is projecting a $2.5 million deficit for the 2022-23 school year, with rising costs neutralizing funding increases.
Planning for the new General Hospital Parkade project is continuing, after no historical burials were found following investigation into anomalies identified by ground penetrating radar.
An Amber Alert has been issued by Cape Breton Regional Police for a missing teenager.
The inquiry into Nova Scotia’s 2020 mass shooting, says four pages of handwritten notes that sparked a political firestorm in Ottawa this week, weren’t immediately submitted when subpoenaed by its investigators.
'It’s in shambles': RCMP 'architects of own demise,' says criminologist after complaints in N.B. and N.S.
After a week of criticism and anger at the Mass Casualty Commission in Nova Scotia, and outcry in a rural area of New Brunswick, there are questions about the RCMP’s role in community policing.
The Toronto Police Service are eyeing ways to add more technology to the city’s parking system in a way that could give drivers more options to avoid tickets — and close what one self-styled parking vigilante calls a “loophole.”
A newly installed Toronto councillor has resigned after her old social media posts, which appear to show homophobic content, were unearthed hours following her appointment.
Those who know the debate most intimately said there's little nuance to be found in Quebec Premier Legault's arguments about Quebec's immigration model. 'Every time it's as painful as it is the first time,' said a spokesperson for a Sikh group.
Friends and family of a 17-year-old girl who died in what police are calling an accident on the shore in LaSalle will gather Saturday to remember the Montreal teen who her mother said was 'was full of life.'
Quebec residents will be celebrating the provincial St-Jean Baptiste Day in-person today for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic forced organizers to cancel most festivities over the past two years.
An Ottawa family is demanding answers after their son went missing for five hours following his pickup from school on Monday.
The impact of the Roe v. Wade ruling in the United States, allowing states to ban abortions, is being felt here in the nation’s capital.
The Nepean MPP’s exclusion means there is only one cabinet minister from Ottawa in the new Progressive Conservative government. Kanata-Carleton MPP Merrilee Fullerton will remain the Minister of Children, Community and Social Services.
Waterloo regional police are investigating after 21 vehicles at four Waterloo dealerships were vandalized in the space of two days.
The success is thanks to a team of local scientists.
The region says they expect encampment residents to comply with the order to leave and enforcement won’t be needed.
June 24 is St. Jean Baptiste Day, a day when francophone culture and history is celebrated.
Work is progressing on Glencore's Onaping Depth Project, a new ore body deep underground that will replace two other mines coming to the end of production.
A new visitor centre at the Sault Ste. Marie Canal National Historic Site is officially open.
A group of students from a school in Winnipeg's River Park South neighbourhood were involved in a 'pepper spray incident' while riding to school on a Winnipeg Transit bus, says a local school division.
An act of kindness from a Winnipeg bus driver is being shared by a passenger who says it warmed his heart to witness.
Environment Canada is investigating a possible tornado in Binscarth, Man. on Thursday night.
A former professional football player who was convicted of killing his ex-girlfriend will not be eligible for parole for 14 years.
Mounties in Kelowna say a body has been found downstream from where missing woman Chelsea Cardno may have been swept away.
A recently published report by the U.K.-based Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) ranked Vancouver as the fifth most livable city in the world.
Saanich police are investigating after a 17-year-old boy was hit by a car while walking at a crosswalk on Thursday evening.
British Columbia's police watchdog is investigating after a man suffered medical distress while in RCMP custody in Campbell River, B.C., and later died.
A problem with the aircraft's emergency ejection parachute has grounded the Canadian Forces Snowbirds.