Canada’s Police Among the Best Paid in the World

//Canada’s Police Among the Best Paid in the World

Canada’s Police Among the Best Paid in the World

Please find below an editorial by Dr. Alok Mukherjee, President of the OAPSB, in the Globe & Mail.

Just as Canada’s provinces are saddled with the escalating cost of health care, so too are municipal governments sinking under the unmanageable burden of another sacred area of public sector spending: policing.

Last year, police protection cost Canada’s cash-strapped cities $12.6-billion – the 14th consecutive year of spending growth, even after adjusting for inflation.
While the volume and severity of crime in Canada have been steadily declining for the last decade, police strength has gone in the other direction. There are now 200 officers for every 100,000 people – an increase of 9 per cent since 2001, though homicides rates are at their lowest in more than 30 years. Some high-crime cities, such as Regina and Winnipeg, have high police strength, but so, too, do cities such as Toronto and Montreal, which rank low on the crime-severity index. The number of Criminal Code incidents per officer has declined steadily since peaking 20 years ago.
Police officers have highly stressful jobs that often require shift work and exposure to unpleasant people and tragic situations. They play a crucial role in society and deserve proper compensation – but just what that level should be is difficult to determine.

Unlike other public-sector employees, many municipal police forces continue to receive annual raises that outpace inflation. From 2009 to 2011, expenditures on police salaries and benefits increased by 5 per cent across the country, while other police operating expenditures fell 4 per cent, Statistics Canada reports.
A first-class officer in Canada’s big cities now earns $80,000-$90,000 a year on average – before overtime and benefits. That makes them among the most generously compensated police in the world. During this year of hard-pressed public finances, the Toronto Police Association negotiated an 11.5-per-cent pay increase over the next four years for its members. Officers get 18 annual days of sick leave, and can bank unused leave, half of which can then be paid out in salary. They can retire at 50, with full pensions, after 30 years of service.
Why is there so little public discussion? And why don’t municipal governments make it a priority to assess this sector’s efficiency, organization and innovation? Municipal politicians fear that austerity measures will earn them an “anti-police� label tantamount to political suicide. During his campaign, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford supported the police to the point of absurdity, pledging to hire 100 additional officers, even though the Toronto Police Service had not made such a request. Once in office, the Ford administration agreed to increase the police budget by 0.6 per cent to $936-million, while holding all other departments to a 10-per-cent cut.

In Calgary, while Mayor Naheed Nenshi supported the idea of a 1.5-per-cent decrease to the police budget, the majority of city council disagreed, and ended up reversing millions of dollars in cuts, and approving $18.3-million more to the police budget over three years and adding 122 more officers.
The political deference shown to police means no pressure for innovation, unlike in health care and education. It should not be unpatriotic to better manage compensation costs in policing.
This is not the same as questioning the value of police. A front-line constable has a dangerous and unpredictable job, and must do everything from picking up drunks from the gutter and plucking copulating couples off subway platforms to investigating brutal scenes of violence. Canada’s municipal and provincial police forces, as well as the RCMP, enjoy high levels of trust, reflected in the outpouring of support at police funerals.

To be sure, the rising costs also relate to the expanded role of police, including federal policing around border security, international drug trafficking and cybercrime. Charter of Rights requirements also mean officers must provide more information to the defence, and physically compile and catalogue every scrap of evidence for a trial, a process which can tie up a homicide officer for months.
The public, too, needs to manage its expectations of what a uniformed officer can reasonably be expected to do. Many Canadian cities already have auxiliary volunteer officers who assist police, and traffic officers who earn substantially less to ticket disobedient motorists. Businesses call police to clear panhandlers from sidewalks. Could not other city agencies perform some of these roles, and allow police to deal with criminals?

No public service can remain aloof from reform. The public should not expect more and more officers on the streets. Political leaders need to conduct a system-wide review of funding. And saying that doesn’t make you soft on crime.

Dr. Alok Mukerjee
Ontario Association of Police Service Boards

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By |2016-10-20T12:52:18+00:00December 4th, 2012|Police|24 Comments

About the Author:

Terry Whitehead is the City Councillor for the West Hamilton Mountain Ward 8. He has represented the residents of Ward 8 since 2003


  1. ED Pajek December 4, 2012 at 4:17 pm

    Thank you for standing up for the tax payer. We need more people like yourself on the police services board. Questions on the budget must be asked! I don’t know how a 5+ % increase can be justified with falling crime rates and an aging demographic.

    • Georg December 5, 2012 at 5:28 am

      Is the crime rate falling because we have the best police? Isn’t an aging population more vulnerable?

  2. Georg December 5, 2012 at 5:27 am

    You get what you pay for.

    • judy December 5, 2012 at 4:05 pm

      I agree.

  3. Maggie December 5, 2012 at 6:27 am

    I am not in favor of salary increase. In Dundas the police are glorified meteor maids they are too busy giving out speeding tickets at the bottom of hills as speed traps instead of responding to break and enters or thefts.

    • Ed December 6, 2012 at 7:31 pm

      Sounds like someone got caught speeding. More people are killed yearly from speeding and impaired driving than break&enters.

    • John March 15, 2013 at 2:28 am

      Guess what Maggie? There is and has been only 2 Officers working the Dundas area at one time for several years, so I hope that if those 2 Officers are on an important call, that you don’t need them in a hurry.

  4. Dave December 5, 2012 at 6:56 am

    Right now we have a guy hanging around our neighborhood trying to kidnap 12 year old girls and sexually assaulting ladies. Two years ago I had two of my truck tires slashed costing me $600. Before that I had my car stolen, for the second time. My car has been broken into several times. I saw a guy loaded leaving a hockey arena get in his minivan and back right up smashing into the car across from him and then go driving off. Every evening when my wife gets home I worry that some perve is going to assault her. SO YES I THINK WE NEED MORE POLICE PRESENCE AND FUNDING IN HAMILTON. Police have a terrible job and I don’t know how they do it every single day and night with 12 hour shifts and drunks trying to fight them and kids getting away with murder and boyfriends beating their girlfriends. If office workers can get paid $80,000/yr to sit on their rear in front of a computer then I think cops damb well deserve to get paid just as much to get assaulted by criminals and not see their family while they work all day and all night. How much does Terry Whitehead get paid to say his stupid comments? Perhaps he would reconsider his position if he found himself the victim of a car thief or if a perve was hanging out in his neighborhood. Maybe a better solution would be to just cut police funding in the neighborhood where he lives and redistribute the resources elsewhere. On his website he states: “Terry Whitehead has long made a home with his wife and four children in Ward 8 and is committed to making the City of Hamilton a better place to live, work, play and raise one’s family.” He’s either lying or he forgot that a good place to raise a family is a safe neighborhood. Maybe both are true.
    3 minutes ago · Like

    • Terry Whitehead December 6, 2012 at 3:17 pm

      Please read the “Canada’s Police are Among the Best Paid in the World” article.

      It is our job to challenge the status quo and to ensure that we have the best service at an affordable price. Otherwise, if this is done as you suggest, we may as well open the purse strings and start shutting down rec centres and health services etc. so that we can continue to pay.

      There are other municipalities in Ontario with more police officers per 100,000 population and they have worse crime statistics than the City of Hamilton. Adding more police officers does not necessarily guarantee that we yield better results.

      The Chief made an operational decision to maintain a horse unit, which is comprised of 5 officers, averaging 1 arrest every 7 days. We have an action team that resulted in stripping 21 officers away from patrolling our neighbourhoods.

      These operational decisions evidently have an impact on our police service’s ability to address the very issues that you have identified.

  5. Mike December 5, 2012 at 12:38 pm

    I don’t know the answer, but I can tell you that as a past Hamilton police officer, I was run ragged on the job. One reason being the lack of manpower. Officers go through 12hr shifts without lunches ot breaks, running from call to call. Tell me any other occupaton were that is allowed to happen? This city moutain continues to expand, yet the beats and manpower for the area has remaind the same since the 60’s. One officer for all of Ancaster, two for all of the Dundas area, one for Binbrook. On a good day, you’ll have seven officers running the entire mountain area. Two domestics, (which is pretty much guaranteed each day) removes at least four of those officers, leaving just three to patrol from the 403 to Dartnall, and from Concession to Rymal.

    • Michelle Hruschka December 9, 2012 at 6:27 am

      Well it is interesting to hear from one of the police members. Yes there are a lot of jobs out there where workers do not get lunches or even breaks. I am not saying what you said is incorrect, however, that issue should be brought up at your union meetings. Sometimes all the collective bargaining goes toward wages and salaries and the small issues like the workplace environment are never touched. We have lots of police downtown, too many if you ask me, if other areas are going without. But that could be part of the educational process to keep the poor in line, if you get what I mean. I say no to the increase of the police budget. Your leaders job, is one of public relations, just as in the book Toxic Sludge is Good For You, this area of expertise gets people to beleive any rhetoric, like toxic sludgge is good for you, if you get my drift

  6. john mac December 5, 2012 at 1:06 pm

    My very infrequwent contacts with the police have left me wondering what these people do. As far as I am concerned they are already overpaid.

    • Kevin Shea February 10, 2014 at 3:40 pm

      They are ALREADY overpaid in my opinion as well !! Where does this madness end – oh, I think I know – it will end when this Province of Ontario “house of cards” crumbles – and then all of these highly overpaid UNIONIZED employees will also know what it feels like to be in a sinking boat !!!

      Kevin Shea

  7. Bob Melnyk December 5, 2012 at 2:18 pm

    The Police budget should be based on “need to have” vs “nice to have”. I’ll offer one example of a nice to have.. the Police Mounted Unit. Clearly a nice to have – and clearly not a need to have. They do look good riding in parades but not necessary on city streets or as seen, in the Hess Street area. If need be, rent horses for the next parade.

  8. Cam December 5, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    Absolutely not, police officers are very well compensated overall, with too many making well over $100K per year, and very generous pensions and days off. Right now they are paying retired officers, who are collecting their full pensions, $75 an hour to walk around the airport and babysit crime scenes. That’s the equivalent of $150K per year. If they can afford that kind of largess, they don’t need a budget increase. This is a prime example of the sense of entitlement by workers in the public sector. To Dave and Mike, if you need a cop, there’s almost always 2 cruisers sitting in the parking lot at the north end of Montgomery Park, quite often for 45 minutes to over an hour, maybe they should eat there lunch there while they’re shooting the breeze.

    • Mike December 6, 2012 at 8:44 pm

      Do you have an office, work space, or lunch room at your place of work? So do police, it’s their cruisers. So yes, you’ll see them in parking lots doing their reports on their computers and if lucky, actually finding time to wolf down a sandwich before the next call.

  9. Christine Herechuk December 5, 2012 at 4:05 pm

    I do not agree with the +5% increase. I realize that being a police officer is a very difficult job but every citizen has been asked/forced to take cuts in pay or no increase in pay and the police should not be exempt from this. We all need to be accountable and use fiscal restraint. Our city councillors need to give this a big thumbs down.

  10. Marsha December 5, 2012 at 11:26 pm

    Not only do I not agree with the requested budget increase, I think Dave should pull his head out from his a–. And how did Mike ever become a police officer with his very bad spelling, get someone else to write his reports? Cam and Bob nailed it on the head, our police department is already overpaid, and their benefits are astronomical. Retire at 50 with full benefits???? Yes, they have a sometimes dangerous job, but they chose their career. Get rid of the equestrian show, and stop paying suspended officers. They milk the system even more so knowing they are getting paid. Obviously they were charged for a reason. Granted they may be vulnerable to being charged and are indeed innocent, so if they are found innocent, they can be paid retoactively. They are paid their salaries, plus benefits, plus raises while suspended and don’t have to refund any of that money if they are found guilty. Do you have a job that would pay you if you were suspended???? Keep up the good work Terry, you seem to be one of the only ones working for the citizens.

    • Steve December 8, 2012 at 11:20 am

      “retoactively”??..Maybe you should get someone to write your comments??..And in the mean time, if Officers suspended with pay are given retro, how are these Offciers suppose to pay there mortgage, put food on the table, clothes on their families back if there off for like a year(s)??….Next time you need help with a crime, think twice on who you call for help

  11. Gerrard Malcolmson December 6, 2012 at 6:32 pm

    I agree with your stand on the Police Budget. The Police commission is nothing but a party group and they forget their role is represent all of the Citizens of Hamilton
    and hold line on Cost of policing!!!!
    There plenty of room for re-deployment of police officers to keep the community safe without adding additional staff.
    Frills like the Horse Patrol should be eliminated and the I believe five officers, put to more productive use.
    I am certain this unit has more down time than patrol time.
    I feel this Chief take or leave it approach to Policing comes from his long career in Toronto.
    Hamilton is not Toronto.

  12. Jim from Gananoque December 6, 2012 at 8:05 pm

    The answer is really quite simple: Reduce the budget of the Fire Department
    and transfer those funds to the Police. The notion that Firemen receive
    moreorless the same wage as do Police Officers in this day and age is really
    quite idiotic.

    Do any of you politicians have the intestinal fortitude to stand-up and think
    outside of the box?

  13. Jemmy Fowler December 7, 2012 at 12:22 am

    Maybe if we didn’t have to pay for lawsuits because some officer thinks it is his job to “stomp people for their own safety” and doesn’t know how to act like a professional, or another who doesn’t believe in following through with evidence, or another who gets payed hundreds of thousands of dollars to stay at home for a few years while being “investigated”.

    Police officers are rightly given extraordinary powers over ordinary citizen in order to do the job they were hired to do. With this power comes greater responsibility, and naturally a higher standard. I work extremely hard, pay my taxes and try to raise a family with what is left. I expect my tax dollars to be used to pay for people who know how to act professionally, the officers who can not handle this level of responsibility should be fired.

  14. Bob December 8, 2012 at 4:56 am

    Yes, how about the Fire Department. Everyone is quick to bash Police, well Fire get the same benefits. They are not the same careers and if you think they are, I beg to differ. Was there an article on Fire overpayments? An online poll? I’d like to hear the statistics of how many Police Officers work 30 or more years, retire, then die. Do you hope to enjoy your retirement? So because people, yes they are people, choose Policing knowing full well the disadvantages, they shouldn’t get monetary benefits while they are alive? For the majority of the work, it is exhausting, physically and mentally. It doesn’t end when they go home. Most people can leave the paperwork issues at work, not Policing because Police deal with actual people. It becomes personal. Believe it or not, some of these people are not nice and very disrespectful. This new generation of the ‘Entitled’ are a joke. I saw a teenager walk up to an Officer and just tell him to F-off. The Officer turned and walked away. Was it professional to walk away? That’s part of the job. I think they deserve a little extra pay for that crap. High rates of divorce, addictions are plentiful issues Police Officers suffer from themselves. For the most part, the brave men and women that choose the career, did so because they care, not for the money. Money can’t awake you from the dead. I know so many Officers that retired, then passed within 5-10 years of retirement. I speak from experience as I’ve had 3 family members as Police Officers. I’d like to hear of statistics on the national average of how long people live after retirement. I bet Police Officers are near the bottom of the list. Society trends change, everyone knows this. Reading these posts, it doesn’t seem that people are aware of what goes on in their cities. 20-25 years ago Police were not attending homes nearly as much for parents 6-20 + year olds out of control and that the parents needed Police to control them. Is this Policing? What happened to PARENTING? Policing has gotten away from fighting crime because this society demands otherwise. Don’t blame Police for what you call them for. If you think Police would rather be at court to testify for a reduced speeding ticket than out on the street fighting crime, your kidding yourself and wasting tax payers dollars. Thant’s what this society is becoming. You get a ticket, then own up to your mistake and pay it. Hell, many Police Forces changed their titles to suit society. They are now called Police Services. This means new type of Police work, so don’t think that because crime trends are decreasing that Police Officer numbers on the street should decrease. There are still ‘services’ to be taken care of. I agree that there should be non-Police agencies to take care of some of the non-violent, less skilled issues to save tax payers money. Would someone please argue this with city counsel? Also Police do not go on strike, and as I mentioned earlier, they probably wouldn’t because they care in keeping the streets safe for the public. There is pride in Policing, just have a look at how many Officers (and EMS members) attend Police funerals and memorial services. Be grateful for what you have like your health and knowledge that if you need help in an emergency, emergency personnel will be on their way, with their lights and sirens going, risking their own safety, worrying if they will make it in time to help you, worrying if some idiot will not be paying attention and pull out or walk out in front of you. Wanting to get to you as soon as possible to catch whomever it is/was that commited a crime. The public needs to demand their local Politicians be more accountable for their own expenditures. I’d like to thank all the current and retired Officers for their dedication over the past hundred or so years. God bless.

  15. Dan and Edna MacInnis December 13, 2012 at 5:09 pm

    In this economic climate, it is absolutely ridiculous for the Hamilton Police Service to have their wages increased! They are an essential part of our community for sure, but we all need to be fiscally responsible! Thank you for standing up for us Terry!

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