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RMA submits Fair Deal feedback

Policing, federal government agreements addressed
machinery tax
Al Kemmere, RMA president and Mountain View County councillor, says Rural Municipalities of Alberta will be monitoring the province’s Fair Deal Panel's progress. File photo/MVP Staff

MOUNTAIN VIEW COUNTY – The Rural Municipalities of Alberta (RMA) association has made written submissions to the province’s Fair Deal Panel, including regarding policing, federal cost share programs, and municipal-federal relations.

The 69-member RMA advocates on behalf of Alberta’s rural municipalities. Al Kemmere is the association’s president and a Mountain View County councillor.

He said he hopes the province takes the association’s input into account, and that the association will be monitoring the panel’s progress going forward.

The Fair Deal Panel is a provincial government initiative gathering information about several proposals. It has held open houses, surveys and consultations with stakeholder groups such as RMA.

Regarding the proposal to establish a provincial police force by ending the Alberta Police Service Agreement with the government of Canada, the association’s feedback included the following (quoted from response):

• While rural policing in Alberta faces several challenges, it is unclear to RMA how the establishment of a provincial police force would improve public safety in rural areas, given that ending the Alberta Police Service Agreement would presumably result in a reduction or elimination of the federal financial contribution to policing in Alberta.

• Under a provincial policing model, Alberta would be required to assume greater administrative and oversight responsibilities which would also carry added costs. This shift in cost responsibilities would not only compromise current policing service levels, but also likely divert funding from enhancing Alberta’s broader justice system, such as the addition of Crown prosecutors, that may be more impactful in reducing rural crime than any change to current police funding or operations.

• RMA would require additional information as to how a provincial police force would further enhance the government of Alberta’s control over policing to an extent that would justify the likely increased cost and how such a shift would transition to improved front-line services. Further, details on recruitment to support necessary service needs of a newly established provincial police force need to be clarified.

Regarding the proposal to require municipalities to obtain the approval of the provincial government before entering into agreements with the federal government, the RMA’s feedback included the following:

• The RMA does not support a proposal to require provincial approval for municipalities to enter into agreements with the federal government. This increased oversight will limit municipal access to federal funding as a result of increased administrative delays and create additional red tape for both municipalities and the province.

• If municipalities are required to seek approval from the provincial government to enter into federal agreements, municipal autonomy will be diminished.

• This proposal is likely to negatively impact Alberta’s municipalities and will have little impact in meaningfully empowering Alberta in the federal context.

Regarding the proposal to opt out of federal cost share programs with full compensation, such as the federal government’s proposed pharmacare program, the association’s feedback included the following:

• RMA could only support this proposal if there was an assurance from the government of Alberta that any federal funding intended for municipalities would still be used for the same purposes if the province chooses to opt out of a federal program.

Dan Singleton

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