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Burnaby stuck with $11M in RCMP retro pay negotiated by feds

The City of Burnaby got a $11M bill in March for retroactive police salary increases negotiated by the federal government and the RCMP union in an agreement signed two years ago.
Photo Cornelia Naylor

The City of Burnaby has been saddled with $11 million in retroactive salary increases for Mounties negotiated by the federal government, and city council has voted to kick the bill down the road for two years.

The Government of Canada and the National Police Federation, which represents Mounties, ratified a historic six-year collective agreement in April 2021.

The deal included retroactive salary increases between 2017 and 2021.

The City of Burnaby’s share, outlined in an invoice it got in March, is $11,128,673.21.

“This has created hardship for many local governments across the country,” said Coun. Sav Dhaliwal, speaking to a report on the salary costs at a council meeting last week.

Municipalities across the country argued they shouldn’t have to pick up the tab, according to the report.

“These lobbying efforts initially appeared to be having some traction with federal officials,” the report stated. “Unfortunately, on March 29, 2023, contract jurisdictions including Burnaby were advised by Public Safety Canada that 2017 to 2021 retroactive pay is the sole responsibility of the contract jurisdictions."

The only concession was municipalities are now allowed up to two years (March 31, 2025) to pay.

The city began socking money away in 2017 in anticipation of extra costs associated with the collective agreement, according to the report, but information provided by the RCMP about the projected expense was “woefully inadequate.”

The city did manage to collect enough money by the end of 2022 to cover the bill, according to the report, but city council has now voted to defer the payment for two years after hearing from staff that putting off the payment would allow the city to invest the funds and generate a return that could be used to offset the cost.

The Union of BC Municipalities and Federation of Canadian Municipalities has also asked the federal government to reconsider its decision, according to the report.

The wage settlement, which was “much higher than estimated” resulted in “a direct increase to property taxes,” according to the City of Burnaby's five-year financial plan.

“The contract settlement was ratified with little collaboration or engagement with local governments,” states the plan. “As the RCMP agreement is a significant cost driver, future contract negotiations will need to be closely monitored to identify budget pressures.”

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