The Mounties need a big raise to catch up with rival police forces and attract quality recruits, an internal report has found.
The RCMP Pay Council has compiled a "business case" that calls for a 10-per-cent raise, stating RCMP members have fallen far behind other police bodies.
"In order to recruit, retain and motivate the best work force for the job, the RCMP must be able to offer a competitive and relevant compensation package to its members," said the report, entitled Fair Compensation for the RCMP. "Given various conditions that have led to fiscal restraint measures, both the total compensation and the first class constable rankings of the RCMP are becoming less competitive with those of other departments in the police universe."
The finding will put pressure on the federal government to increase salary and benefits in the RCMP, even as the force is trying to persuade Ottawa to approve the hiring of new officers to deal with the increased focus on the fight against terrorism.
The members of the RCMP have recently won a court battle in the Supreme Court to form a union or a police association, which they hope will increase their leverage in salary negotiations with the government.
"This climate creates the potential for a crisis within Canada's national police force, especially in light of the Supreme Court of Canada decision … which will significantly change the labour relations landscape within the RCMP," the report said.
To attract and keep quality officers, the RCMP has determined that it must offer wages and benefits that are higher than the average compensation in police forces in six big cities (Edmonton, Halifax, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver and Winnipeg) and the two main provincial forces (Ontario and Quebec).
The RCMP wants its average compensation to be within the top three of the eight comparable police forces. Currently, the RCMP is in fifth place, "with its total compensation value falling 9.61 per cent behind that of the average top three services."
The Mounties started to fall behind other police officers in 2007, as the federal government entered a period of spending cuts, and have steadily lost ground since.
"In terms of salary alone, the RCMP first class constable salary ranks 57th out of the 82 Canadian police services with 50 members or more," the report said. "These trends have contributed to members no longer recommending the RCMP as an employer of choice, which could hamper any recruitment strategies that the force is implementing."
One of the bigger challenges facing the RCMP is attracting recruits to serve in isolated parts of the country, even as their counterparts in other police bodies receive large incentives to serve in faraway detachments.
"As the pool of possible new members is shrinking, the competition between police services for qualified applicants is rising. Successful organizations must offer rates of pay comparable to their competitors in the labour market," the report said.
The five-member Pay Council now has to make a formal recommendation on a compensation package to RCMP Commissioner Bob Paulson. The file will then head to the departments of Public Safety and the Treasury Board Secretariat for a final decision.