Organized crime is active on Prince Edward Island. Need proof? How about the importation and sale of contraband tobacco, the illegal sale of prescription drugs, thefts, break-ins, the sale of counterfeit goods and the sexual exploitation of children.
All of this is very visible on a visit to any courtroom on Prince Edward Island but what appears before Island judges is only the tip of the iceberg.
In order to increase the efforts to fight crime, the province established the Criminal Intelligence Service of Prince Edward Island (CISPEI) in August of 2006 with a grant from the federal government. The bureau is integrated with the RCMP's L Division Criminal Analysis Section and has five member agencies: RCMP L Division, and the police departments of Summerside, Charlottetown, Kensington and the now closed Borden-Carleton police service.
The funding for the program ended on March 31, 2013, and the province picked up the tab for the $451,610 service. That funding ceases on March 31, 2014, and the provincial government wants out.
Instead, the province is proposing the municipalities of Summerside, Charlottetown, Kensington, Stratford and Cornwall pick up roughly half of the cost. Each municipal share would be based on population numbers. The province would make up the difference. The total cost of the program is $451,510.
Under the province's proposal, Summerside would contribute $49,610 annually to the program. Charlottetown would pay $112,750, Kensington, $4,510, Stratford, $27,060 and Cornwall $18,040.
Summerside city council rejected the province’s proposal and rightly so. Five municipalities should not be burdened with nearly half of the cost for a provincial policing service.
Summerside city council looks at this as just another effort on the part of the province to download the costs of a program to the municipality. The city has been on record stating significant losses in revenue have occurred since the province canceled the Comprehensive Urban Services Agreement (CUSA), a revenue sharing formula that ended in 2008.
According to figures released during the budget deliberations, from 2008 to 2013, when the CUSA agreement was changed, the city was around $8 million short of what it would have received under the CUSA agreement.
Council sees the CISPEI proposal as another attempt to take funding away from the city.
But there is a more important issue here – the safety, health and security of all Islanders - $451,000 is a small price to pay to give police a valuable resource they need to fight crime.
New Brunswick and Nova Scotia provincial governments seem to value their residents more than Prince Edward Island. Both of those provinces fully fund their CIS programs.
P.E.I. should do the same.