Barrie’s mayor calls it “appalling.” A $700,000 cut to Barrie Police Service funding on the provincial level.
Lehman says a letter from Queen’s Park on Friday indicates the Ford Government has cut its annual grant to the police service by $300,000. That deficit comes as the province also moves to cancel an annual funding increase of $400,000 meaning the service is short $700,000 this year.
The cuts come at a time when the service is called upon more and more, says Lehman, amidst what is close to being declared a public health emergency, “In the midst of an opioid crisis in which the police are front line workers, it’s absolutely ridiculous that the Conservative Government would cut funding.”
Barrie-Springwater-Oro Medonte MPP Doug Downey told Barrie 360 News that the grant is based on a specific formula that varies from year to year based on statistics provided by Barrie Police.
“Maybe the letter that went out wasn’t clear enough, maybe he just misunderstood. We’ve asked the ministry to meet with the Barrie Police, and they will, to go through their stats, make sure that the formula is understood and if there is an error we’ll certainly get it corrected…it doesn’t look like there’s an error, but we’ll go through that exercise, for sure.”– Douglas Downey, MPP, Barrie Springwater Oro-Medonte
Some of the funding in question pertains to court costs; in 2012 the Province started uploading costs of courthouse security, with a roughly $400,000 annual increase in Barrie to $3 million in funding last year. The Ford government has since frozen that court security grant across Ontario and in Barrie, which means the city will not get the $400,000 increase per year that took place from 2013 to 2018. Mayor Lehman says the province has also reduced a grant by $300,000. “I actually agree that Ontario’s finances are not in good shape. When this government makes cuts I agree with, I will applaud them. But we need the Ontario government to provide more funding to police, not less, to allow us to address the pressing public safety concerns in our community. Prime among these is the opioid crisis.”
The Barrie Police Service this year submitted a budget of just over $53 million, of which the service anticipated over $4 million would be covered by provincial grants.
Where the Barrie Police Service expects to make up for the $700,000 shortfall is as yet unknown.