Ottawa Police Services Board Approves $13.4M Increase in 2024 Draft Budget

The Ottawa Police Service headquarters on Elgin Street. (Leah Larocque/CTV News Ottawa)

The Ottawa Police Services Board has endorsed a significant increase in funding for the Ottawa Police Service in its 2024 draft budget, as reported by CTV News. The draft, which was unanimously carried at a meeting on Monday afternoon, proposes a $13.4 million increase from last year, setting the net operating budget at $372.4 million.

Budget Constraints and Future Plans

In light of budget constraints, Ottawa Police Chief Eric Stubbs highlighted the need for approximately $2 million in savings over the next year to maintain a balanced budget. The current budget adheres to a 2.5 percent tax increase, aligning with previously determined budget directions. However, Chief Stubbs indicated that future years might require a higher tax increase to support the police service’s ambitious staffing plan. This three-year plan involves hiring over 550 new employees, including 435 sworn members and 120 civilian members.

Challenges in Implementing the Staffing Plan

Stubbs explained to reporters that while the first year of hiring can be managed within the existing budget, the subsequent years will likely be more costly. “We would be needing more of a percentage increase than this year to meet the goals of that three-year plan,” Stubbs stated, acknowledging the financial challenges in maintaining the service’s expansion goals. He refrained from specifying how much more would be required above the 2.5 percent increase, emphasizing the focus on the current budget.

An arm patch is seen on an Ottawa Police Service officer during a news conference, in Ottawa, Wednesday, Sept. 6, 2023. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld/File)

Investments in Fleet and Equipment

The draft budget also includes plans for substantial investments in police resources. The board approved a $4.8-million fleet replacement program and a $1.33-million plan to acquire conducted energy weapons, commonly known as Tasers. These investments are seen as critical components in equipping the police force to effectively serve the community.

City’s Overall Fiscal Plan

The police budget forms part of the city of Ottawa’s broader fiscal strategy, with the city’s $5.8-billion budget for 2024 set to be finalized at the city council on December 6. This larger budgetary context underscores the significance of the police budget in the overall financial planning for Ottawa.

Implications and Public Response

The approval of the draft budget marks a key moment in shaping the future of policing in Ottawa. While the increase in funding reflects a commitment to public safety and effective law enforcement, it also raises questions about fiscal sustainability and the allocation of public resources amidst wider economic constraints.