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Mounties’ fight for wage increases could impact Campbell River taxpayers

A court battle between the federal government and the RCMP over wage increases for the Mounties that were taken away four years ago could impact the city’s budget.

Laura Ciarniello, the city’s general manager of corporate services, said the RCMP are challenging rollbacks of agreed upon pay raises in 2008, 2009, and 2010.

“The RCMP have gone to court to challenge the freezing of these wages,” Ciarniello said. “The court case, I believe, is now being scheduled to be heard by the Supreme Court of Canada. Should the federal government lose the case, it is anticipated that there will be a one-time hit to the City of Campbell River’s budget of $450,000.

“So that is an amount we are keeping our eye on and as soon as we know something we will bring it to council’s attention and start looking at funding options.”

The money would be retroactive pay owed to police officers should the RCMP win its court case.

The Mounties, in June of 2011, challenged the federal Treasury Board’s decision to take back pay raises it had agreed upon in June of 2007 of 3.4 per cent in 2008, 3.5 per cent in 2009 and two per cent in 2010.

The Treasury Board, which approves RCMP budgets, decided in November of 2008 that because of the economic downturn it would only allow raises of 1.5 per cent for each of the next three years, effectively negating the increases it had agreed upon just one year prior.

That decision was quashed by the Court of Appeal last fall after Justice Elizabeth Heneghan said the move breached the Charter of Rights, however, Ottawa is appealing to the Supreme Court and the matter remains before the courts.

The RCMP have said if the ruling were to stand, more than 20,000 Mounties could see about $30 million in lost wages recovered.

Ciarniello said although city staff are aware the city could be on the hook for $450,000, that figure has not been included in the 2013 budget as the matter is still ongoing.

“At this point in time we have not built any contingency into the city’s budget because we don’t know what the outcome of that case is going to be,” Ciarniello said.

The province recently signed a new contract with the RCMP early this summer, with a less than one per cent pay increase. The RCMP budget, at $8.4 million for 2013, takes up the largest portion of the city’s budget.

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