I recently wrote to Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety, to call for swift action to address RCMP staffing shortages in Manitoba:
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police play an important role in communities throughout rural Manitoba. Thousands of rural families rely on the RCMP to respond to emergencies and keep them safe, but the high number of vacancies within the force is cause for alarm.
About 6 per cent of positions were vacant in Manitoba according to RCMP numbers from April – almost 2 per cent greater than the national vacancy rate of 4.3 per cent. In real figures, Manitoba is missing about 60 officers that would otherwise be upholding law and order in our communities. This is beyond the routine vacancies that exist due to maternity, paternity, and medical leave – figures which bring the total vacancy rate to about 20 per cent, or over 200 officers.
High vacancy rates are increasing the risk of officer burnout as fewer officers try to fulfill the same responsibilities typically managed by a larger complement of officers. On top of that, with fewer officers on the job the risk to public safety increases. This reality emboldens criminals and steals peace of mind from Manitoban families living far beyond a stone’s throw from their local detachment.
We also know recruitment has been strained as a result of the temporary closure of the RCMP Depot Division in response to COVID-19, creating a serious gap in new recruits that requires urgent correction.
I have called on Minister Mendicino to swiftly develop a plan to address these staffing shortages. To that end, I have provided him with a number of recommendations generated through town halls conducted with the residents of Brandon – Souris.
Without action, rural communities will continue to experience crime including breaking and entering, vehicle and machinery theft, and other similar crimes, at intolerable rates. We owe it to Manitobans to deliver results and ensure safe communities for all of us.