Police resources in Canada, 2017

by Patricia Conor

Release date: March 28, 2018

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Highlights

  • There were 69,027 police officers in Canada on May 15, 2017, 168 more than the previous year. This represents a rate of police strength of 188 officers per 100,000 population and a decline of 1% from the previous year. It also marks the sixth consecutive year of decline in the rate of police strength.
  • The 29,049 civilians employed by police services across Canada on May 15, 2017, represents a 2% increase from the previous year and accounted for 30% of all police service personnel. The proportion of personnel employed by police services who are civilians has gradually increased since the 1960s. Growth has occurred predominantly in the management and professional categories which includes managers, administrators, systems/computer analysts, scientists, and other skilled civilian personnel.
  • On May 15, 2017, women accounted for 21% of all sworn officers. Women continued to be increasingly represented in the higher ranks of police services. Women represented 15% of senior officers in 2017—the highest proportion ever recorded—compared with 7% in 2007 and less than 1% in 1986.
  • The proportion of police officers aged 40 years and older has grown from 52% in 2013 to 56% in 2017.
  • In 2016/2017, police services in Canada hired 2,917 officers. The majority (86%) were recruit graduates, remaining consistent from the previous year.
  • Police reported that 2,684 officers departed their service in 2016/2017, with 67% leaving for retirement and the remaining 33% leaving for other reasons such as a job with another service or a career change. In 2016/2017, 10% of officers in Canada were eligible to retire but did not.
  • Year‑end operating expenditures for police services in Canada in 2016/2017 totaled $14.7 billion in current dollars. Police spending has increased annually from 1987/1988 for every year except in 1994/1995 and 1995/1996 with very small decreases of less than 1%. Accounting for inflation, total operating expenditures in 2016/2017 rose by 2% from the previous year.
  • When accounting for population and inflation, policing operational costs in 2016/2017 amounted to $315 per capita, almost unchanged from $313 per capita in 2015/2016.

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The roles and responsibilities of police services has changed over time, creating new challenges in areas such as crime prevention, law enforcement, public assistance, maintenance of public order and responding to emergencies. As such, police, policy‑makers and the public require information to monitor and make information‑based decisions regarding the administration of policing.

Using data from the Police Administration Survey, this Juristat article provides the most recent findings on the rate of police strength; police officers by rank, sex and age; police officer hirings and departures; civilian employees; and, police operating expenditures. Data are presented at the national, provincial and territorial, and municipal levels. This article also includes information from the 2016 Census of Population on the Aboriginal and visible minority status of police officers in Canada.

To provide a more complete picture of policing in Canada, the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics has developed a revised Police Administration Survey that will collect new information to better understand the cost‑drivers and changing human resource structures within police services. This new survey will begin collecting data in April 2018.

The rate of police strength down slightly from 2016

On May 15, 2017, there were 69,027 police officers in Canada, up by 168 officers from the previous year (Table 1). This represents a rate of police strength of 188 officers per 100,000 populationNote  and a decline of 1% from the previous year (Chart 1).Note  The rate of police strength in 2017 also marks the sixthNote  consecutive year of decline and the lowest rate since 2004 (187). The total number of police officers and rate of police strength includes federal, provincial, territorial, municipal and First Nations police services.

Chart 1 Rate of police strength and civilian personnel per 100,000 population, Canada, 1962 to 2017

Data table for Chart 1
Data table for Chart 1
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 1. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Police officers and Civilian personnel, calculated using Personnel per 100,000 population units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Police officers Civilian personnel
Personnel per 100,000 population
1962 140.6 30.7
1963 144.4 31.4
1964 149.4 34.5
1965 153.5 36.3
1966 160.3 37.9
1967 165.8 39.3
1968 168.5 40.3
1969 173.0 42.7
1970 178.2 46.7
1971 182.8 48.3
1972 185.5 52.9
1973 191.8 54.7
1974 198.5 53.0
1975 206.2 59.6
1976 205.6 61.3
1977 205.5 64.2
1978 203.2 65.7
1979 202.4 62.0
1980 203.3 66.9
1981 203.7 68.5
1982 201.2 70.6
1983 197.4 68.4
1984 195.3 68.4
1985 194.8 68.5
1986 197.0 70.0
1987 198.5 73.9
1988 199.0 72.4
1989 198.7 71.6
1990 202.3 69.5
1991 202.5 69.4
1992 200.9 70.7
1993 198.4 69.6
1994 192.6 67.2
1995 187.7 65.7
1996 183.5 66.2
1997 183.0 65.8
1998 181.6 64.3
1999 182.0 66.3
2000 182.3 64.9
2001 184.0 64.4
2002 186.3 66.1
2003 187.8 67.9
2004 187.2 69.5
2005 189.3 72.5
2006 191.8 73.4
2007 195.0 76.9
2008 196.4 77.1
2009 200.0 80.5
2010 203.1 80.4
2011 202.2 81.9
2012 200.0 81.2
2013 197.0 79.3
2014 193.6 80.0
2015 191.9 79.2
2016 189.9 78.4
2017 188.0 79.1

The provincial and territorial rate of police strength, which excludes the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) headquarters and Training Academy, was 185 officers per 100,000 population in 2017. Among Canada's provinces, the rate of police strength in 2017 ranged from the lowest rate of 146 officers per 100,000 population in Prince Edward Island, to the highest rate of 201 officers per 100,000 population in Saskatchewan (Chart 2). For these two provinces, these ranking were similar to previous years. The rate of police strength in Nova Scotia (192), Quebec (189), Manitoba (192), Saskatchewan (201) and British Columbia (186) were higher than the provincial and territorial rate (Table 2). All three territories were higher than the provincial and territorial rate with Northwest Territories having the highest rate of police strength of 411 per 100,000 population.

Chart 2 Rate of police strength, by province and territory, 2017

Data table for Chart 2
Data table for Chart 2
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 2 Rate of police strength, calculated using Police officers per 100,000 population units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Rate of police strength
Police officers per 100,000 population
N.L. 172
P.E.I. 146
N.S. 192
N.B. 162
Que. 189
Ont. 183
Man. 192
Sask. 201
Alta. 175
B.C. 186
Y.T. 333
N.W.T. 411
Nvt. 353
Provincial and territorial total
185

Across the country in 2017, there were 50 stand‑alone municipal police services or municipalities policed by the RCMP that have a population greater than 100,000.Note  Among these services, eight saw increases in their rates of police strength from the preceding year, 31 saw decreases in strength, while 11 reported no notable change from 2016 to 2017. The largest increases in the rates of police strength were seen in the municipalities of Delta, British Columbia (+7%), Red Deer, Alberta (+4%), and London, Ontario (+3%). The municipalities of Codiac Region, New Brunswick (-10%), Abbotsford, British Columbia (-6%) and Toronto, Ontario (-5%) reported the largest decrease in rate of police strength (Table 3).

Among these 50 police services, the 10 with the highest rates of police strength were Victoria (233 per 100,000 population), Montréal (228), Halifax (223),Note  Thunder Bay (197), Vancouver (196), Windsor (193), Winnipeg (192), Edmonton (183), Toronto (180), and Regina (178) (Table 3). Of these 10 police services, only Toronto and Regina reported rates of police officer strength that fell below their provincial rate of police strength.

For the third consecutive year, the lowest rates of police strength were observed in British Columbia's municipality of Richmond (98 per 100,000 population), and in Richelieu Saint‑Laurent (103 per 100,000 population) and Lévis (107 per 100,000 population) both of which are located in Quebec (Table 3).

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Text box 1
Types of police services in Canada

Policing in Canada is administered on three levels: municipal, provincial, and federal services. In 2017, at the municipal level, there were 141 stand‑alone police services and 36 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, under a cost‑sharing agreement between the federal government (52%) and provincial/territorial governments (48%) (Kiedrowski et al. 2016). The communities are responsible for governing the police service through a police board, band council, or other authority (Lithopoulos and Ruddell 2013).

The provincial police service of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) is responsible to provide police services to St. John's, Corner Brook and Labrador West. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) provides provincial, municipal and First Nations policing to the remainder of the province, in addition to their federal policing role.

The other two provincial services—Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and Sûreté du Québec (SQ)—are responsible for serving communities in those provinces without stand‑alone municipal forces. They are also responsible for provincial highways and other areas under provincial jurisdiction. Provinces without a provincial service have these duties provided by the RCMP.

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.

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Of the 69,027 police officers in Canada, 56%, or 38,911, were employed by stand‑alone municipal police services (Table 2). These included 874 officers serving with First Nations self‑administered police services. In addition, 18% of all police officers in Canada were employed in RCMP contract policing, 9% by the OPP, 8% by the SQ, 7% were employed with the RCMP's federal and other policing duties, and 2% were employed with the RCMP's Headquarters and Training Academy. The remaining 1% of police officers in Canada were members of the RNC.

Among the different types of policing services, two reported increases in the number of police officers compared to 2016: the RCMP grew by 291 police officers and First Nation self‑administered police services saw 20 more police officers. This latter increase was driven by a growth in officers reported by Nishnawbe‑Aski Police Service, Ontario (+17), Lac Simon Police Service, Quebec (+11) and Kativik Regional Police Service, Quebec (+8).

The proportion of females employed by police services has grown

On May 15, 2017, there were 14,752 female police officers in Canada, accounting for 21% of all sworn officers. Since data collection began in 1986 when women accounted for just under 4% of all officers, they have slowly accounted for more and more officers each year (Chart 3). Compared to the previous year, police services reported 197 more female officers in 2017 and 29 fewer male officers.

Chart 3 Female officers as a percentage of total police officers, by rank, Canada, 1987 to 2017

Data table for Chart 3
Data table for Chart 3
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 3. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Senior officers, Non‑commissioned officers, Constables and Total, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Senior officers Non-commissioned officers Constables Total
percent
1987 0.2 0.6 6.1 4.4
1988 0.2 0.8 7.0 5.1
1989 0.3 1.1 7.9 5.8
1990 0.4 1.3 8.6 6.4
1991 0.4 1.4 9.5 7.0
1992 0.7 1.6 10.2 7.5
1993 1.2 1.8 10.8 8.0
1994 1.3 2.2 12.0 9.1
1995 1.6 2.7 12.8 9.8
1996 1.7 3.0 13.5 10.4
1997 2.1 3.4 14.3 11.1
1998 2.2 3.9 15.5 12.2
1999 2.8 4.7 16.2 12.9
2000 3.1 5.5 17.0 13.7
2001 3.5 6.3 17.8 14.5
2002 4.0 7.1 18.6 15.3
2003 4.7 7.7 19.1 15.7
2004 5.2 8.9 19.8 16.5
2005 5.5 9.7 20.7 17.3
2006 6.1 10.8 21.1 17.9
2007 7.2 12.0 21.5 18.5
2008 7.7 13.3 21.2 18.7
2009 8.3 14.4 21.4 19.1
2010 8.7 15.1 21.4 19.2
2011 9.5 15.8 21.6 19.6
2012 9.9 16.4 21.8 19.9
2013 10.4 17.1 21.9 20.2
2014 10.9 17.6 22.2 20.6
2015 12.4 18.0 22.3 20.8
2016 13.2 18.2 22.6 21.1
2017 14.7 19.0 22.6 21.4

Across the different types of police services, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary reported the highest proportion of female officers at 28%. The Ontario Provincial Police and the Sûreté du Québec each reported 22% of their officers as female. Among the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) and municipal stand‑alone police services (excluding First Nations), each reported 21% of officers were female. Across the First Nation self‑administered services, women accounted for 16% of officers in 2017.

Among the 50 stand‑alone municipal police services and municipalities policed by the RCMP that have a population greater than 100,000, the largest proportion of female officers was reported by Longueuil, Quebec with 35% in 2017, followed by Montréal (32%) and Kelowna (32%) (Table 3). Twenty‑five of the 50 municipal police services reported rates of female officers ranging from 21% (the national average) to 30%. The remaining 22 municipal police services were lower than the national average, with the lowest proportion of female officers reported in Ontario's Chatham‑Kent (14%) (Table 3).

Although women account for a smaller proportion of senior and non‑commissioned officers when compared with Constables, their presence in the higher ranks continues to increase. In 2017, the number of female senior officers increased from 348 to 384, accounting for 15% of senior officers. This marks the highest proportion of female senior officers since collection began in 1986. Among non‑commissioned officers in 2017, 19% were women, compared with 12% ten years ago and less than 1% in 1986.

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Text box 2
Census 2016: Visible minority and Aboriginal police officers in Canada

Over the years, Canada has become more diverse as visible minority and Aboriginal populations have grown. A component of community policing is building a service that reflects the profile of the communities it serves. For many police services, this is a consideration in recruitment.

Visible minority police officers

The increase in the number of immigrants from non‑European countries, as well as their children and grandchildren born in Canada, has contributed to the growth of the visible minority population in Canada (Statistics Canada 2017a).

In 2016, 7,674,580 individuals were identified as belonging to the visible minority population as defined by the Employment Equity Act.Note  They represented more than one‑fifth (22.3%) of Canada's population, compared to 19.1% in 2011. Of the visible minority population in 2016, 3 in 10 were born in Canada. The three largest visible minority groups were South Asian, Chinese and Black.Note 

If current trends continue, the visible minority population will continue to grow and could represent between 31.2% and 35.9% of the Canadian population by 2036.

In 2016, 8.4% of all police officers (both commissioned and non‑commissioned) self‑identified as belonging to a visible minority group, according to the Census that year (Text box 2 table 1). This represents a total of 145 commissioned officers and 6,760 non‑commissioned officers. Similarly, 8.2% of all police in 2011 were a visible minority, according to the 2011 National Household Survey. From 2011 to 2016, the proportions of visible minority commissioned and non‑commissioned officers both increased.

Most provinces saw an increase from 2011 to 2016 in the proportion of total officers reporting as a visible minority, particularly in Prince Edward Island, Manitoba, British Columbia, Newfoundland and Labrador and Saskatchewan.

Among the provinces, the number of visible minority police officers per 1,000 visible minority population ranged from 0.7 in Quebec to 2.3 in Prince Edward Island. It should be noted that provincial rates do not demonstrate specific geographies where visible minority populations and officers may be concentrated.

Aboriginal police officers

In 2016, there were 1,673,780 Aboriginal people in Canada, accounting for 4.9% of the population and marking an increase from 4.3% in 2011 (Statistics Canada 2017b; Statistics Canada 2015).

Of the total number of officers in 2016, 5.4% (or 4,390) reported their identity as Aboriginal,Note  up from 4.7% in 2011. This growth represents an increase of 45 Aboriginal commissioned officers and 250 Aboriginal non‑commissioned police officers. In total, there were 115 Aboriginal commissioned officers and 4,275 Aboriginal non‑commissioned officers in 2016, according to the Census (Text box 2 table 2).

Almost all provinces and territories reported an increase from 2011 to 2016 in the proportion of officers of Aboriginal identity, with the exception of Alberta, Manitoba and Nunavut where proportions declined (Text box 2 table 2).

The provincial rate of Aboriginal police officers per 1,000 Aboriginal population ranged from 2.0 in both Newfoundland and Labrador and British Columbia to 5.5 in Prince Edward Island. Compared to 2011, the number of Aboriginal people occupying the ranks of commissioned officers grew in a number of provinces in 2016, namely in Manitoba, Alberta, Saskatchewan and British Columbia.

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The proportion of civilian personnel employed by police services continues to increase

Police services are increasingly made up of civilian members such as clerks, communications staff, and managers and professionals. This increase in civilian membership is referred to as civilianization. Civilianization is "the practice of assigning non‑sworn employees to conduct police work that does not require the authority, special training, or credibility of a sworn police officer" (Griffiths et al. 2006). It has been argued that through redistributing duties to civilian members, effectiveness and economic efficiency may be increased (Griffiths et al. 2014). At the same time, caution has been expressed that civilianization be implemented in a way that is mindful of the duties that require sworn officers and that ensures that the police service and the work environment benefit (Morrell 2014; Peak 2010).

On May 15, 2017, police services employed 29,049 civilians, which represents 613 more than the previous year (+2%) (Table 1). This increase is the largest gain in civilian personnel since 2011, when police services had reported an additional 785 civilians from the preceding year. The number of civilian personnel as a proportion of all personnel employed by police services has gradually increased since data were first collected in 1962. At that time, civilian personnel accounted for 18% of personnel employed by police services, compared with 30% in 2017 (Chart 4). Civilian personnel can be categorized as clerical staff, management and professional staff, communications and dispatch staff, and other civilian staff, which include security officers, cadets, special constables, by‑law enforcement and parking control officers, and school crossing guards. Among these four staff categories, growth has been seen predominantly in the category of managers and professionals, which accounted for 10% of all police personnel in 2017, compared with 4% in 1996 (Chart 5). The management and professional category includes managers, administrators, systems/computer analysts, scientists, and other skilled civilian personnel.

Chart 4 Civilian personnel as a proportion of total personnel, by category, Canada, 1996 to 2017

Data table for Chart 4
Data table for Chart 4
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 4 Clerical staff, Management/professionals, Communications/dispatch, Other civilian personnel and Total civilian personnel, calculated using percent of total personnel units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Clerical staff Management / professionals Communications / dispatch Other civilian personnel Total civilian personnel
percent of total personnel
1996 11.3 4.3 4.2 6.7 26.5
1997 11.2 4.4 4.3 6.6 26.5
1998 11.2 4.6 4.3 6.1 26.1
1999 11.2 4.8 4.4 6.3 26.7
2000 11.2 4.9 4.4 5.8 26.3
2001 11.2 5.2 4.3 5.2 25.9
2002 11.0 5.6 4.3 5.3 26.2
2003 11.2 6.1 4.3 5.0 26.6
2004 11.4 6.3 4.2 5.2 27.1
2005 11.5 6.5 4.5 5.1 27.7
2006 11.4 6.9 4.2 5.2 27.7
2007 11.4 7.4 4.2 5.2 28.3
2008 11.1 7.8 4.0 5.3 28.2
2009 11.2 8.1 3.9 5.5 28.7
2010 11.0 8.3 3.8 5.2 28.4
2011 10.8 9.1 3.8 5.1 28.8
2012 10.9 9.1 3.8 5.0 28.0
2013 10.2 9.4 3.8 5.2 28.7
2014 10.3 9.7 3.9 5.2 29.2
2015 10.2 9.9 4.0 5.1 29.2
2016 10.0 10.4 3.8 5.1 29.2
2017 10.2 10.4 3.7 5.3 29.6

Chart 5 Composition of police services, by rank and category, Canada, 2017

Data table for Chart 5
Data table for Chart 5
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 5 Percent of all personnel (appearing as column headers).
Percent of all personnel
Police officers
Senior officers 2.7
Non-commissioned officers 18.1
Constables 49.6
Other Note ...: not applicable
Total 70.4
Civilian personnel
Clerical 10.2
Management/professionals 10.4
Communications/dispatch 3.7
Other 5.3
Total 29.6

In 2017, 35% of Royal Canadian Mounted Police personnel were civilians, the largest proportion among the different types of police services. Civilians also made up a notable proportion of municipal police services' staff at 29%. Just under one quarter of police personnel in each of the three provincial services were civilian (24% for both Ontario Provincial Police and Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, 23% for Sûreté du Québec). Among First NationsNote  police services, civilians accounted for 21% of employees.

As in the previous year, women filled 67% of civilian positions in 2017. Among the 19,411 female civilian workers, 45% were working in clerical support positions and 31% occupied management and professional positions.

Overall proportion of officers aged 40 years and older has grown

In 2012, the Police Administration Survey began collecting additional information on the socio‑demographic characteristics of police officers in order to inform human resources planning. Based on these additional data, in 2017, 50% of Canada's police officers were between 40 and 54 years old and approximately 6% were 55 years and older (Chart 6). In addition, 10% of police officers in Canada were eligible to retire as of the 2017 calendar year or the 2016/2017 fiscal year end.

Chart 6 Age distribution of police officers, Canada, 2013 to 2017

Data table for Chart 6
Data table for Chart 6
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 6. The information is grouped by Age group (years) (appearing as row headers), 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016 and 2017, calculated using percent of police officers units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Age group (years) 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017
percent of police officers
Under 25 1.6 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8
25 to 29 10.9 10.0 9.4 9.1 8.8
30 to 34 16.8 16.8 16.3 16.0 15.7
35 to 39 18.5 18.2 18.2 18.2 18.0
40 to 44 19.3 19.6 19.5 19.3 19.0
45 to 49 16.8 16.8 17.1 17.6 18.1
50 to 54 11.4 12.2 12.8 13.0 12.9
55 and older 4.7 4.9 5.1 5.2 5.7

The age profile of officers varies among the different types of police services. For instance, among the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the Sûreté du Québec, and both small and large municipal police services,Note  those aged 40 years and older accounted for 50% to 56% of officers in 2017. The proportion has been growing since 2013, with the exception of a decrease in small municipal police services in 2015 (Chart 7).

Chart 7 Proportion of police officers 40 years of age and older, by type of police service, Canada, 2012 to 2017

Data table for Chart 7
Data table for Chart 7
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 7. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Large municipal police service, First Nations police service, Small municipal police service, Ontario Provincial Police, Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and Sûreté du Québec, calculated using percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Large municipal police service First Nations police service Small municipal police service Ontario Provincial Police Royal Canadian Mounted Police Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Sûreté du Québec
percent
2012 49.9 36.3 50.9 60.1 49.1 Note ..: not available for a specific reference period 43.9
2013 51.6 37.6 53.6 62.3 50.5 50.7 47.3
2014 53.1 39.5 54.3 64.5 51.9 48.5 48.5
2015 53.9 43.0 53.8 68.2 53.2 47.6 49.8
2016 54.7 43.7 55.5 67.7 53.3 44.0 50.9
2017 56.0 46.0 56.0 66.0 53.6 41.8 51.1

The age profile of Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), is somewhat older when compared with all other types of police services. In 2017, 66% of the OPP's sworn officers were aged 40 years or older, up 6 percentage points from 2012.

In contrast, those aged 40 and older account for a smaller proportion of officers within the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC), and this proportion has steadily decreased over time. In 2017, 42% of officers within the RNC were 40 years of age or older, compared with 51% in 2013 (the first year age related data were reported from the RNC).

First NationsNote  police services reported 46% of their sworn police officers as aged 40 years and older and this age category has continued to increase since 2012 (Chart 7).

The number of recruits hired increased from last year

In 2016/2017, there were 2,917 police officers hired by police services in Canada, up by 287 from 2015/2016. The majority (86%) were recruit graduates, which was the same percentage as the previous year. To be considered a recruit graduate, an individual must have successfully completed a training program where they achieved the status of fully sworn officer in the previous calendar or fiscal year. The remaining 14% of hires were experienced officers (Table 4).

Among the 409 experienced officers hired nationally, 36% had less than 5 years of service and 33% had 5 to under 10 years of service. Among the experienced officers hired by First Nations police services, 67% in 2017 and 53% over the last six year average had less than 5 years of service (Chart 8). In contrast, 77% of experienced officers hired by the Ontario Provincial Police had between 5 and 15 years of experience.

Chart 8 Proportion of experienced police officers hired with under 5 years of service, by type of police service, Canada, 2012 to 2017

Data table for Chart 8
Data table for Chart 8
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 8 Percent (appearing as column headers).
Percent
Large municipal police service 60.8
First Nations police service 52.8
Small municipal police service 51.4
Ontario Provincial Police 5.2
Royal Canadian Mounted Police 28.8
Royal Newfoundland Constabulary 50.0
Sûreté du Québec 8.5
Canada 49.1

With the financial and personnel investments associated with training police officers, officer retention is an emerging area of research. Some research suggests that turnover can lead to disruption in the workplace, can have a negative impact on police work and crime control, and may hinder the development of leadership within the ranks (Scheer 2014). Police services reported that 2,684 officers departed their service in 2016/2017, with 67% leaving for retirement and the other 33% leaving for other reasons such as a job with another police service or a career change (Table 4).

In 2017, six provinces saw a net loss between the number of police officers they hired and the number of officers that departed their police service, with the greatest net loss experienced by Quebec (-146 officers) followed by Ontario (-115 officers). The other four provinces and the territories all reported a net gain, meaning more officers were hired than departed. Among these, Alberta showed the largest net gain of 262 officers, with British Columbia having the second largest net gain of 255 officers (Table 4).

Majority of officers who left First Nations police services have less than 10 years of service

Based on data covering the period from 2012 to 2017, 16% of all officers who departed their police service had less than 10 years of experience.

Among First NationsNote  police services, 66% of all departures were officers with under 10 years of service. Of sworn officers leaving First Nations police services with less than 10 years of service, just over 55% had left for another service, while 45% left for other reasons. For small municipal servicesNote  policing populations of less than 90,000, 33% of officers who left had under 10 years of service. When it comes to larger municipal police services, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), Royal Newfoundland Constabulary (RNC) and Sûreté du Québec (SQ), a far smaller proportion of departures occur within the early part of an officer's career (Chart 9).

Chart 9 Proportion of police officers who departed their service with under 10 years of service, by type of police service, Canada, 2012 to 2017

Data table for Chart 9
Data table for Chart 9
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 9 Percent (appearing as column headers).
Percent
Large municipal police service 14.7
First Nations police service 66.1
Small municipal police service 33.2
Ontario Provincial Police 5.5
Royal Canadian Mounted Police 13.5
Royal Newfoundland Constabulary 5.7
Sûreté du Québec 7.0
Canada 15.6

Instead, the provincial police services reported the largest proportions of officers leaving for retirement. From 2012 to 2017, 92% of officers who left the RNC left to retire. This was true for 89% of departures from the OPP and 87% from the SQ.Note  Among large municipal police services, 73% of officers left for retirement, whereas this was true for 56% of departures from small municipal police services. Among the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, 59% of officers left for retirement, and among First Nations police services,Note  10% of officers left for this reason.

Salaries among First Nations police services have been consistently lower compared with other services, but gap is narrowing

The average annual salary for police personnel in Canada in 2016/2017, including both police officers and civilians, was $97,004, up by 1% from the previous year.Note  When controlling for inflation, this amount has generally grown since 1998/1999 with a few years of declines, but overall showing an 11% increase over the last decade (Chart 10).

Chart 10 Average salary, total police personnel, constant dollars, Canada, 1999 to 2017

Data table for Chart 10
Data table for Chart 10
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 10. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), First Nations and Non-First Nations, calculated using constant dollars units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year First Nations Non-First Nations
constant dollars
1999 33,767 62,056
2000 48,552 61,800
2001 43,401 63,903
2002 42,758 63,145
2003 45,474 64,896
2004 46,742 66,063
2005 47,376 66,726
2006 54,220 67,863
2007 52,604 68,372
2008 53,926 69,573
2009 53,579 71,034
2010 59,375 73,550
2011 49,985 75,217
2012 57,832 75,377
2013 61,962 78,456
2014 58,152 76,596
2015 64,810 75,499
2016 66,002 76,035
2017 66,353 75,653

Over time, the average salaries reported by First Nations police services (when accounting for inflation) have remained consistently lower than for other types of police services. In recent years, however, the gap has narrowed. In the 10 years prior to 2017, the average gap in salaries between First Nations and non‑First Nations police services was just over $16,100. In 2017, that difference had decreased to $9,300, with the gap beginning to narrow in 2015 (Chart 10).

In 2016/2017, the average salary in current dollars for personnel employed by First Nations police services was $85,197 compared with $97,139 for personnel of non‑First Nations police services. First Nations average salaries were closely in line with Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and Sûreté du Québec ($87,204 and $87,258, respectively).

Average salariesNote Note  in 2016/2017 were driven predominantly by the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), municipal services serving a population greater than 90,000 and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). The average salaries (in current dollars) were higher in these types of police services than any other types of police services. The OPP reported an average salary of $103,918, while average salaries of the large municipal police services ranged from $68,228 in Halifax, Nova ScotiaNote  to $114,490 in Ottawa, Ontario. The RCMP reported an average salary of $96,401.

In 2017, the amount paid for salaries and wages for all police services including police officers and civilians was $9.5 billion. Almost half of this amount (49%) was paid by large stand‑alone municipal police services which served a population greater than 100,000. The RCMP accounted for an additional 29% of national spending on salaries and wages.

Operating expenditures reached $14.7 billion in 2016/2017

Total operating expenditures for all police services across Canada in 2016/2017 amounted to $14.7 billion in current dollars (Table 5). The total expenditures comprise salaries and wages (65%), benefits (16%), and other operating expenditures (20%). Historically, these proportions have remained relatively consistent.

Accounting for inflation,Note  total operating expenditures rose by 2% from the previous year. Total operating expenditures in constant dollars have risen most years since 1996/1997 except for relatively small decreases in 2011/2012 and 2013/2014 and is 26% higher than it was 10 years ago (Table 6). While total spending in Nova Scotia remained stable and decreased in the Yukon, the other provinces and territories reported increases in total expenditures from the previous year. The largest increase was seen in Alberta (+7%) and Nunavut (+7%), followed by Newfoundland and Labrador (+6%).

Of the total operating expenditures for Canada in current dollars, $7.7 billion (53%) were associated with stand‑alone municipal police services, and marked a 3% increase from 2016. Provincial police reported spending $2.2 billion (15%), which was down slightly from last year. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police reported $4.8 billion in expenditures (33%) and a 6% increase from the previous year (Table 5).

On a per capita basis, using constant dollars,Note  policing operating expenditures amounted to a cost of $315 per person in 2016/2017. This was virtually unchangedNote  from 2015/2016 ($313 per capita), staying within the range of $312 to $320 since 2009/2010. The per capita cost, however, was 13% higher in 2016/2017 than in 2006/2007 (Chart 11).

Chart 11 Police expenditures per capita, current dollars and constant dollars, Canada, 1986/1987 to 2016/2017

Data table for Chart 11
Data table for Chart 11
Table summary
This table displays the results of Data table for Chart 11. The information is grouped by Year (appearing as row headers), Current dollars and Constant dollars, calculated using dollars–per capita expenditures units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Year Current dollars Constant dollars
dollars–per capita expenditures
1986/1987 144 220
1987/1988 152 222
1988/1989 164 230
1989/1990 172 230
1990/1991 189 242
1991/1992 194 234
1992/1993 202 240
1993/1994 202 236
1994/1995 199 233
1995/1996 197 225
1996/1997 198 222
1997/1998 200 222
1998/1999 206 226
1999/2000 210 226
2000/2001 222 232
2001/2002 234 240
2002/2003 250 250
2003/2004 263 256
2004/2005 274 262
2005/2006 288 269
2006/2007 303 278
2007/2008 321 288
2008/2009 344 302
2009/2010 366 320
2010/2011 372 319
2011/2012 377 315
2012/2013 390 320
2013/2014 387 315
2014/2015 391 312
2015/2016 397 313
2016/2017 405 315

Summary

Overall, police services are generally responsible for enforcing the law, preventing and reducing crime, assisting victims, maintaining public order, and responding to emergencies. However, it has been argued that police services are increasingly being called upon to respond to matters that fall outside of these core functions of the police. For instance, police engage in a variety of tasks including responding to calls for service, initiating enforcement activities, and carrying out administrative duties (Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police 2015; Malm et al. 2005; Waterloo Regional Police Service 2011). At the same time, police are accountable to their municipality, their police service boards and the public to report on both service and fiscal performance.

While national statistics on police resources are able to demonstrate that the rate of police strength has been slowly decreasing since 2012 and the spending per capita has remained relatively stable since 2009, the current survey lacks the detail needed to better understand and report on the cost pressures and cost drivers in policing and how the conventional structure of human resources may be changing.

In order to produce better information to inform and monitor police administration and performance, the Canadian Centre for Justice Statistics (CCJS), in collaboration with the policing community, will be launching a new Police Administration Survey in April 2018. This new survey will allow police to report more details on salaries, wages and benefits for officers and civilians, as well as more detailed breakdowns of operating costs and capital expenditures.

Further, the CCJS, in collaboration with the policing community and other partners in public safety, has developed a national, standard police performance metrics framework from which police can build comparable metrics. This framework is planned for publication in fall 2018.

Lastly, together with the policing community, the CCJS has been working to determine the feasibility of a national survey on police calls for service to allow for better reporting on the workload of police as it is estimated that up to 80% of calls for police service are not specifically related to a criminal offence (Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police 2015; Malm et al. 2005; Waterloo Regional Police Service 2011). The ability to report on a regular basis standardized, national statistics on the nature and extent of calls to which police respond will address a significant gap in measuring public safety and police workload and performance.

Detailed data tables

Table 1 Trends in police personnel, Canada, 1962 to 2017

Table 2 Police officers by level of policing, by province and territory, 2017

Table 3 Municipal police services serving a population of 100,000 or more, Canada, 2017

Table 4 Hirings and departures of police officers, by province and territory, Canada, 2016/2017

Table 5 Total expenditures on policing, current dollars, by province and territory, 2016/2017

Table 6 Current and constant (2002) dollar expenditures on policing, Canada, 1986/1987 to 2016/2017

Survey description

Police Administration Survey

The Police Administration Survey collects data on police personnel and expenditures from each municipal, provincial and federal police services in Canada. The following security agencies are excluded from the survey: the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, railway and military police, and government departments enforcing specific statutes in the areas of income tax, customs and excise, immigration, fisheries and wildlife. Additionally, private security services and private investigators are not included in the survey.

Data presented in this report represent police personnel as of May 15, 2017 and year‑end operating expenditures for the 2016 calendar year or the 2016/2017 fiscal year. Police officers include the actual number of permanent sworn police officers available for active duty as of May 15, 2017. Part‑time personnel are converted to a full‑time equivalent. Police expenditures represent actual operating expenditures and include salaries and wages, benefits, and other operating expenses such as accommodation costs, fuel, and maintenance. Expenditure data represent gross expenditure, and does not include capital expenditures, funding from external sources, or cost recovery dollars.

Since 2012, the Police Administration Survey has included a Supplemental questionnaire which captures detailed information on hires, departures, eligibility to retire, years of service, age, education, visible minority status, and language. Due to data quality issues, some of this information is not published.

References

Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police. 2015. The Dollars and Sense of Policing, Public Safety and Well‑Being in Your Community.

Griffiths, Curt Taylor, Adam Palmer, Larry Weeks and Brian Polidore. 2006. Civilianization in the Vancouver Police Department. Public Safety Canada.

Griffiths, Curt Taylor, Nahanni Pollard and Tom Stamatakis. 2014. "Assessing the effectiveness and efficiency of a police service: The analytics of operational reviews." Police Practice and Research, 2014. Vol. 16, no. 2. p. 175‑187.

Kiedrowski, John, Michael Petrunik and Rick Ruddell. 2016. Illustrative Case Studies of First Nations Policing Program Models. Public Safety Canada.

Lithopoulos, Savvas and Rick Ruddell. 2013. "Aboriginal policing in rural Canada: Establishing a research agenda." International Journal of Rural Criminology. Vol. 2, no. 1.

Malm, A., Pollard, N., Brantingham, P., Tinsley, P., Plecas, D., Brantingham, P., Cohen, I. and B. Kinney. 2005. "A 30 year analysis of police service delivery and costing: “E” Division." Centre for Criminal Justice Research (CCJS). University College of the Fraser Valley.

Morrell, Kevin. 2014. "Civilianization and its discontents." Academy of Management Proceedings. Vol. 2014, no. 1.

Peak, Kenneth. 2010. "Police issues and practices." Justice Administration: Police, Courts, and Corrections Management. Sixth Edition. Pearson Education.

Scheer, Charlie. 2014. "Current trends in police retention: Strategies for keeping good talent." RCMP Gazette. Vol. 76, no. 3.

Statistics Canada. 2017a. "Immigration and ethnocultural diversity: Key results from the 2016 Census." The Daily. October 25.

Statistics Canada. 2017b. "Aboriginal peoples in Canada: Key results from the 2016 Census." The Daily. October 25.

Statistics Canada. 2015. Aboriginal Statistics at a Glance: 2nd Edition. Statistics Canada catalogue no. 89‑645‑X.

Waterloo Regional Police Service. 2011. Neighbourhood Policing: Rebuilding to Meet the Needs of Our Changing and Growing Community.

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