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Decrease in the rate of police strength in Canada in 2022

Released: 2023-03-27

After being relatively stable the previous two years of data collection, the rate of police strength in Canada in 2022 continued the downward trend started more than a decade earlier. In 2022, the rate of police strength was 181 officers per 100,000 population, down 1% from the year prior. There were 70,566 police officers in Canada on May 15, 2022, 406 more than on the same date in 2021. Despite this increase in the number of police officers, an even greater increase in the growth rate of the Canadian population led to the lower rate of police strength.

Chart 1  Chart 1: Rate of police officers and civilian personnel per 100,000 population, Canada, 1962 to 2022
Rate of police officers and civilian personnel per 100,000 population, Canada, 1962 to 2022

In 2021/2022, police services in Canada hired 2,076 police officers and 1,894 recruits, 914 more hires in these two combined employee categories compared with the previous collection period. All provinces and territories except Ontario and Manitoba hired more police officers than recruits. In 2021/2022, the number of women police officers hired increased by 15%, and the number of women recruits hired increased by 16% compared with 2020/2021.

The number of women officers in all ranks grows

While the number of women in Canadian police services continues to rise, this growth has happened over a long period of time. The number of women has increased steadily since 1986, when data on gender were first collected. That year, women accounted for just under 4% of all officers, while in 2022, women represented 23% of all sworn officers. On May 15, 2022, there were 16,008 women police officers in Canada, an increase of 273 compared with 2021.

Across different officer ranks, women police officers mostly held constable positions, making up about one-quarter (24%) of all constables in Canada. Although women represent a slightly smaller proportion of both commissioned and non-commissioned officers, their presence in these roles continued to increase. From 2021 to 2022, the number of commissioned officers who were women rose from 840 to 870, accounting for 18% of all commissioned officers in 2022. While this represents the highest number of women commissioned officers ever recorded, their proportion among all commissioned officers has decreased slightly since 2019 as a result of an increase in the total number of commissioned officers.

Chart 2  Chart 2: Women officers as a percentage of total police officers, by rank, Canada, 1992 to 2022
Women officers as a percentage of total police officers, by rank, Canada, 1992 to 2022

Fewer than 1 in 10 police officers are racialized

Diversity and inclusion are central to discussions about police culture, given the importance of representing the Canadian population within police personnel. To that end, efforts are being made through various hiring policies. According to data from the 2021 Census of Population, 26.5% of Canada's population was racialized. In 2022, among police services for which information was available, 8% of all police officers (unchanged from 2021) and 14% of recruits (11% in 2021) in Canada were racialized. In the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), racialized officers accounted for 13% of all police personnel, and the proportion was 7% in municipal police services.

The representation of Indigenous peoples in police services and that observed in the 2021 Census is close

In 2021, 5% of the Canadian population self-identified as Indigenous, namely First Nations people, Métis or Inuit. Among police services for which information was available, on May 15, 2022, 4% (or 2,641) of police officers had identified as Indigenous, as well as 4% (or 72) of recruits. In First Nations police services, just over half (56%) of police officers self-identified as Indigenous. In addition, the proportion of Indigenous officers was 1% in municipal police services, 2% in the Sûreté du Québec and Ontario Provincial Police, and 7% in the RCMP.

The number of civilian employees in police services is also increasing

Police services are increasingly comprised of civilian employees, such as clerks, communications staff, managers and other professionals who primarily take care of administrative support, operational communications, information technology services, reception services and vehicle and facility services. In addition to sworn officers, police services employed 32,717 full-time equivalents and recruits as of May 15, 2022, an increase of 310 employees from 2021. Of this number, 28,649 (88%) were civilian employees, 2,166 (7%) were special constables and 1,902 (6%) were recruits. Civilians accounted for most of the overall growth of all employees in 2022 (excluding the sworn officers), with an increase of 698 from the previous year followed by an increase of 30 additional recruits. In contrast, the number of special constables decreased by 418 compared with 2021. On May 15, 2022, women represented 69% of civilian personnel within police services, 36% of special constables and 27% of recruits.

Calls for service increase in 2021/2022

Most Canadians remained at home for long periods in 2020/2021 because of stay-at-home orders and other restrictions related to COVID-19. With the easing of those restrictions and the resumption of most activities in 2021/2022, the number of calls for service to police services increased by 2.7% compared with 2020/2021. Police services answered around 11.9 million calls in 2021/2022, or an average of 1,356 calls for service per hour. Of all police-reported calls for service, municipal police services handled just over 6 in 10 (61%), while the RCMP responded to 25%, provincial police services to 13% and First Nations police services to 1%.

Police operating expenditures, in current dollars, rise 12% in 2021/2022 from 2020/2021

Across Canada, the total operating expenditures for all police services in 2021/2022 were $18.5 billion in current dollars. These expenditures were composed of salaries and wages (67%), benefits (17%) and other operating expenditures (16%).

After inflation was accounted for (i.e., in constant dollars), total operating expenditures rose 8% from the previous collection period. On a per capita basis for Canada, in constant dollars, police operating expenditures amounted to a cost of $342 per person in 2021/2022, an increase of 8% compared with the previous period.

The increase in total operating expenditures can be explained by, among other reasons, the implementation of the first collective agreement for RCMP members and reservists. Retroactive compensation, salary increases and associated employee benefit plan expenses caused an increase in total operating expenditures in 2021/2022 compared with 2020/2021.

Chart 3  Chart 3: Police expenditures per capita, current dollars and constant dollars, Canada, 1991/1992 to 2021/2022
Police expenditures per capita, current dollars and constant dollars, Canada, 1991/1992 to 2021/2022

  Note to readers

Policing in Canada is administered on three levels: municipal, provincial and federal. At the municipal level, there are stand-alone police services and First Nations self-administered services. Self-administered First Nations police services are created under agreements between the federal, provincial and territorial governments along with the communities looking to administer their own police service. At the provincial level, there are three provincial police services: in Newfoundland and Labrador, Ontario and Quebec. At the federal level, it is the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) that provides provincial, municipal, rural and First Nations policing (where self-administered police services have not been established). The RCMP is also responsible for all federal policing matters such as serious and organized crime and financial crime, as well as specialized policing services such as the Canadian Firearms Program and the National Child Exploitation Coordination Centre.

Many factors can account for differences in the number of police officers per 100,000 population when analyzed by jurisdictions and police services. These could include differences in police services' priorities, policies, enforcement procedures and practices, as well as the availability of resources. In Canada, information on police personnel and expenditures is collected by Statistics Canada through the Police Administration Survey. Using data reported by each police service in Canada, it is possible to provide details on police personnel at the national, provincial and territorial, and municipal levels.

The data in this article cover two distinct periods. Most of the information on police personnel is based on a "snapshot date" of May 15, 2022, while expenditures represent the calendar year ending December 31, 2021 (or fiscal year ending March 31, 2022).

In this release, rates with a percentage change that rounds to 0% are considered stable and percentages may not sum to 100% because of to rounding.

Before 2018, data were collected by sex of police personnel, whereas now, data are collected by gender.

Special constables are appointed civilian who has been conferred the powers of a police officer, to the extent and for the specific purpose set out in the appointment.

The data on Indigenous identity and racialized group are collected from police services through self-identification by personnel. As such, information on racialized group was reported as "unknown" for 23% of police officers and 36% of recruits and as "not collected by the police service" for 21% of police officers and 20% of recruits. Information on Indigenous identity was reported as "unknown" for 20% of police officers and 38% of recruits and as "not collected by the police service" for 23% of police officers and 24% of recruits. It is not possible to further disaggregate the data.


The infographic "Police personnel and expenditures in Canada, 2022" is now available (Catalogue number11-627-X).

Contact information

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