Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Marie-France Lalonde wrote to Heads of Municipal Councils and Police Services Boards last week to provide an update on changes to key policing grants. According to the Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO), Minister Lalonde’s letter promised a one-year delay in the implementation of a number of changes to three policing grant programs that have been used by municipalities to fund 2,000 front-line officers for the past twelve years (the Community Policing Partnerships Grant, the Provincial Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy, and the Safer Communities 1,000 Officers Partnership grant). While the announcement does not alter the ultimate outcome of the government’s changes to these granting programs, it will provide municipalities a greater period of time to understand and prepare for their impact. See below for AMO’s comments on the changes the government initially proposed. According to AMO, prior to Minister Lalonde’s letter, the government was planning to re-purpose:
…key existing policing grants into a single transitional grant. This could leave property taxpayers on the hook for $400 million in payroll costs in 2018 without dedicated provincial support for those front line officers. In AMO’s view, the Ministry’s proposal of a transitional, short-term grant with different funding criteria at this time is ill considered. The first priority must be to wind up old grants in a way that ensures no residual or legacy fiscal burdens for police services or municipal government. The second priority should be to design future grants and direct Ministry spending in ways that support good civilian governance and policing modernization.