B.C. RCMP Contract: Federal And BC Governments Inch Closer To Deal
VANCOUVER - Provincial and municipal politicians in British Columbia say they and the federal government have made progress negotiating a new RCMP contract, just two days before a deadline from Ottawa expires.
But Solicitor General Shirley Bond isn't calling it a deal yet, saying there's still work to be done and she hopes to be able to get back to the federal government by Wednesday.
"We have reports from the deputy ministers suggesting that there has been progress made on a number of key issues," said Bond, who declined to give specifics, saying she did not want to negotiate in the media.
"I think that's very significant. You know there was a time where there was major concerns about whether or not we would be back at the table at all."
This past September, Bond announced that Ottawa had given the provinces until the end of November to come up with a new deal for RCMP services to replace the current one, which expires at the end of next March.
She said the federal government had threatened to withdraw RCMP officers from all provinces except Alberta, Saskatchewan, Ontario and Quebec by 2014 if the deadline wasn't met.
Alberta and Saskatchewan have already signed a deal, while Ontario and Quebec have their own provincial police forces and don't rely on the RCMP.
In a statement, the Ministry of Public Safety said no deal had been reached but discussions are going well and the federal government is looking forward to a positive outcome.
Langley B.C. Mayor Peter Fassbender, who is an observer at the negotiating table, said the discussions took place in Ottawa last week and deputy ministers returned to their provinces to report back to their ministers.
Further talks are expected by Wednesday, said Fassbender.
Bond said policing costs and accountability have been an issue between the provincial and federal governments.
She said the provincial government, which is negotiating on behalf of the province's municipalities, wants reassurance that rising costs can be contained.
Bond said she hopes to talk with the municipalities before signing any deal.
"This is a large complicated contract," she said. "No final decision has been made."