Toronto's Sacred Blue Cow

Toronto's entire budget deficit can be explained by its bloated police force budget.

For all of the incompetence of the brothers Ford, going after the Toronto police budget is the one thing I can support.

To be clear, Ford did not get elected with such a mandate. He promised to scrape the alleged gravy without cutting a single service. This time last year he was promising to hire 100 additional police officers.

Then, shortly after gaining office, Ford granted, without argument, a gravy-dripping pay increase of eleven per cent over four years, making them the highest paid force in Ontario, if not Canada.

Now he is seeking to cut police spending by ten per cent. This is a difficult task given that nearly nine tenths of the police budget is spent on wages and benefits.

For years, the police budget has been untouchable. As Marcus Gee points out, since 1957 Toronto's population has doubled, while the size of the police force has nearly quadrupled. The original budget back then was $12.4 million.

Adjusted for inflation, that budget would be just shy of $102 million today.

The size of the current force is about 8,000. To support a police force of 8,000 at the 1957 rate would cost $43 million in 1957 dollars, or $353 million in today's dollars.

We are looking at a police budget this year of nearly one billion dollars. That over $600 million dollar difference is more than enough to wipe out the entire budget deficit the City is staring at this year.

I don't beget paying our officers decently, and giving them reasonable benefits; but, adjusted for inflation, we're paying nearly three times per officer what we did 50 years ago.

For all things, there are opportunity costs. The cost of paying police this much means there's so much less for other budgets.

A Canadian Armed Forces private faces a far higher mortality and injury rate than any police officer in this country. They are subject to extreme conditions, and a lack of stability in their lives as they are moved from posting to posting. Their starting salary?


The starting pay for a police cadet in Toronto, not counting overtime? 


That's what a basic corporal makes in the military.

I know there's no going back to an equivalent 1950s level of spending.

Going forward, trimming the force size, and pulling back on benefits and pay, is a must.


Robert McClelland said...

A major reason why crime rates have been going down is because we've been adding more police.

Mark Richard Francis said...

Even if that is true -- and I doubt it -- the cost per officer is way, way up, as I pointed out.

I doubt that increased policing has that much to do with crime rates. I suspect demographicstells us more. Also, a lot of crime is drug 'crime' and a lot of that, shouldn't be. How much money are we wasting on the 'war on drugs'? I clogs our courts, and soon, our jails.

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