After being nearly shut out of this year's budget, the RCMP are embarking on a year-long process to determine how much money they need to fulfill their mandate and convince the government to come up with the required funding.
The national police force has been struggling to adapt to a high tempo of national security operations ever since the terrorist attacks in St-Jean-sur-Richelieu and Ottawa in October, 2014.
There is a shortage of about 500 Mounties to meet the needs of the force's contract arrangements with provinces and municipalities across the country, as well as its own investigations in areas such as organized crime and national security.
"It's a difficult situation, it's a very challenging situation," RCMP chief financial and administrative officer Alain Duplantie said in an interview. "Across the board, we need more police officers."
Speaking to a parliamentary committee in early March, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said "you can't give [the RCMP] a mandate and demand they perform miracles and then not provide the resources necessary to get the job done."
However, the Trudeau government's first budget provided no significant top-ups to operational funding for Canada's security agencies. There was new funding for cybersecurity and "counter-radicalization," which fulfilled campaign pledges, and spending on infrastructure for a new RCMP forensic laboratory and upgrades to existing training facilities.
As they prepare for the next budget cycle, the RCMP have launched two reviews in a bid to come up with a new, fully funded policing strategy.
The first one, which should be completed in six weeks, aims to determine exactly how many recruits need to be trained each year at the "Depot" facility in Regina. Training recruits takes about 18 months, so the RCMP must figure out quickly whether they need to increase the number of graduates in coming years.
"We're working to strengthen and add rigour to our funding model so that Depot is operating at the optimal level, so that when the government contemplates adding additional resources in one area or the other, we're in a position to fill those positions and deliver on the additional mandate," Deputy Commissioner Duplantie said.
The second "resourcing review" will be handled by an outside consulting firm, which is in the process of being hired. The goal is to examine all RCMP programs and see whether they meet their stated goals, before determining the necessary funding levels.
The review could lead to a wide variety of findings, including changing some elements of the RCMP's mandate or calling for internal reallocation of resources.
The results will then be submitted to the federal government's central agencies, which will determine whether the RCMP should get a budget boost.
"Our intention is to produce recommendations to the Minister of Public Safety within the current fiscal year, to try and connect with the next budget cycle," Deputy Commissioner Duplantie said. "Assuming there are incremental budget asks, it then goes through the process of competing against other government priorities."
RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson has repeatedly said he has had to pull detectives off organized-crime investigations to staff holes in the terrorism file.
In particular, the RCMP has focused massive resources on "high-risk travellers" looking to participate in the global jihadi movement, "foreign fighters" who have made it overseas and "returnees" who have come back with intentions unknown.
"I've not seen a tempo and pace of [counterterrorism] operations like this. … It is an unprecedented alignment of our resources," Commissioner Paulson said earlier this month.
Deputy Commissioner Duplantie said he predicts the situation will last at least through the coming year.
"That pattern holds," he said.