The RCMP has claimed that “significant resource challenges” are impeding its ability to fight terrorism and cybercrime as demands grow. It added that help is needed before files can be properly policed.
In recent reports, the RCMP pointed out potential problems. The reports were included in its 2020-2021 departmental plan, in the House of Commons on Tuesday, and also its financial records according to CBC News.
The departmental plan says, “Without sufficient technology, tools and information systems, there is a risk that federal policing may not be able to meet critical operational requirements.”
“Overall, there is a risk that without new funding, federal policing will be unable to deliver on its already narrowed and focused scope.”
In the document, the RCMP note that its federal policing unit will focus on high-priority investigations to do with foreign interference, terrorist activities, money laundering, organized crime, cyber-enabled criminal activities as well as foreign-influenced cybercrime.
The force said, “Federal policing is working to keep pace with a rapidly evolving criminal threat environment in which technology underpins contemporary criminal activity.”
“The risks to the safety and security of Canadians are no longer direct and obvious, but extend to more insidious and covert threats to our economic and social well-being.”
This comes as Ottawa is preparing to give an update on foreign espionage threats. A 180-page report is being tabled by the National Security and Intelligence Committee of Parliamentarians today.
Former federal lawyer, Leah West who lectures on national security issues noted that the majority of lethal attacks come from people who are inspired by right-wing extremism as well as the “incel” movement.
“Investigating and preventing crime associated with each of these movements is not one-size-fits-all,” said West.
“Significant resources and expertise would need to be allocated to counter each of these unique and, by all accounts, growing threats to Canadian security, which would undoubtedly put a strain on the RCMP.”
The force has noted its continuous resource problem for months now.
The RCMP’s quarterly financial report for December said that government-wide cuts have added “significant financial pressures" to the force.
The report said, “Given the increasing demands on RCMP resources, particularly on national security files, the RCMP is facing significant resourcing challenges.”
“The increased concerns around terrorism and extremism, cybercrime, changing demographics, population growth and rapid technological advancements continue to create unanticipated operational requirements and increase the existing organizational costs.”
The planned 2020-2021 budget for the RCMP is approximately $3.5 billion, with $1.5 billion used for policing provinces, territories, indigenous communities and municipalities. Federal policing will consume about $900 million.
Pulic Safety Minister, Bill Blair’s spokesperson said that $700 million has been given to the RCMP in recent years after cuts were made when the Conservative government was in power.
“While we will not speculate on what may or may not be in the budget, we know that the government of Canada has no greater responsibility than to keep its citizens safe,” said Mary-Liz Power.
“Under our leadership, RCMP officers will have the resources and support they need to do their important work.”
“The former minister of public safety and the director of CSIS previously acknowledged the risk to public safety the growth of these violent extremist movements pose to Canadians. But in this time of economic uncertainty, I'm not optimistic that there is the political motivation necessary to increase spending,” she added.
“Sadly, we have a history in Canada of waiting until something has gone very wrong to expand political and fiscal capital on national security and defence.”
The head of the union that represents RCMP officers said, “We've known for years, and we've pointed out for years, that our members are overworked and under-resourced. So we need more cops.”
“You have to wonder if all of these governments are actually taking public safety seriously.”