Police resources in Canada, 2014

by Hope Hutchins

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Discussions regarding the economics of policing and community safety are ongoing in Canada. These discussions are framed around identifying the nature of police expenditures, as well as ways to reduce costs while continuing to meet police responsibilities regarding public safety. Considerations around the economics of policing and community safety have been the subject of a Summit on the Economics of Policing in January 2013 (see Hutchins 2014, Public Safety Canada 2013), a Police Education and Learning Summit in September 2013 (Public Safety Canada 2014a), and a report on the Economics of Policing released by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security in May 2014 (Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security 2014).

Using data from the Police Administration Survey (see the “Survey descriptions” section for details), this Juristat article contributes to the economics of policing and community safety discussion by presenting the most recent findings regarding the rate of police strength and police expenditures in Canada. The Police Administration Survey captures police-reported data on the number of police officers in Canada by rank and sex, as well as on civilian employees. These data are based on a snapshot date (May 15, 2014 for the most recent data). Data on hirings, departures, eligibility to retire, and expenditures in this report are based on either the 2013 calendar year or the 2013/2014 fiscal year,Note 1 depending on the police service. The information from this survey is provided for Canada, the provinces and territories and census metropolitan areas (CMAs). In addition, this article provides information on workplace mobility within police services, including the hiring and departures of police and their eligibility to retire. It also summarizes data on the characteristics of police officers, including gender and age group. For the first time, data on the education level of officers are available and are presented within this article.

To provide a more complete picture of the state of policing in Canada, the following additional contextual information is presented: recent developments in the economics of policing and community safety discussions; international data on the gender of police personnel, and; relevant information on wages from Statistics Canada’s Labour Force Survey (LFS). For the first time, this Juristat includes United Nations Peacekeeping data on police participation in international peacekeeping.

Rate of police strength continues to decline

There were 68,896 police officers in Canada on May 15, 2014, 354 fewer officers than in 2013. This represented a rate of police strength of 194 police officers per 100,000 population, a decrease of 1.6% from the previous year. After remaining stable in 2011,Note 2 the rate has decreased every year since (Table 1).

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Text box 1
Policing structure and responsibilities

Municipalities, delegated by the provinces, provide most of the policing services across Canada. Other policing is provided by provincial and federal services. More specifically, in Ontario, Quebec, and Newfoundland and Labrador, provincial police services (namely, the Ontario Provincial Police, the Sûreté du Québec, and the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary) serve communities without municipal stand-alone police forces and are responsible for policing provincial highways and other areas under provincial jurisdiction. In the Prairie Region and British Columbia, provincial and some municipal policing is provided by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP). All of Canada's three territories are policed solely by the RCMP (Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security 2014).

The RCMP is also responsible for coordinating and delivering national policing services such as: the specialized support services of the Canadian Police Information Centre, the operation of the Canadian Police College in Ottawa, the Canadian Firearms Program, the Forensic Science and Identification Services, the National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains, and the Canadian Police Centre for Missing and Exploited Children. As well, the RCMP is responsible for federal policing matters that include: the investigation of criminal activity related to national security, organized crime, and the economy; the development and sharing of criminal intelligence; the enforcement of federal statutes, and; involvement in international peacekeeping and protection of state officials, dignitaries, Canadian aircraft, and major events (Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security 2014).

Finally, policing services within Aboriginal communities are administered in a variety of ways. In some areas, policing is delivered through legacy programs such as the Band Constable Program and the Aboriginal Community Constable Program. In other areas, services may be negotiated via agreements under the First Nations Policing Program, by RCMP contract police, by provincial police services in Ontario and Quebec, or through self-administered Aboriginal police forces (Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security 2014).

Within police services, police officers are generally responsible for enforcing the law, preventing and reducing crime, assisting victims, maintaining order, and responding to emergencies. In order to do so, police engage in a variety of tasks including responding to calls for service, initiating enforcement activities, and carrying out administrative duties. Calls for service do not necessarily pertain to violations of the Criminal Code. For example, citizens may contact police regarding by-law complaints, false alarms, reports of sick or injured persons or persons with mental health issues, intoxicated persons, traffic accidents, and reports of suspicious persons. In addition to these reactive activities, police officers initiate enforcement activities, such as drug investigations, neighbourhood patrols, stake-outs, stopping suspicious persons, and crowd or traffic control, to ensure community safety. Finally, administrative duties include activities such as writing reports and attending and providing security in court (Burczycka 2013). The expectations and work environment of police are influenced by changes over time. Examples of such changes are an increased focus on terrorism, organized crime, drugs, forensics, and national security. These changes can also mean technological developments such as new tools used to provide court testimony remotely, new data sources like those related to social media, and new crimes such as cybercrime (see Hutchins 2014).

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Trends in rate of police strength do not necessarily reflect trends in the crime rate

Long-term trends in the rate of police strength and the crime rateNote 3 show that the two trends do not necessarily follow one another (Chart 1). Between the 1960s and the mid-1970s, both the rate of police strength and the crime rate increased. However, since the mid-1970s, the rate of police strength in Canada has remained relatively stable in comparison to the crime rate, which peaked in 1991 and then began falling. In 2013, the latest year for which data are available, the police-reported crime rate decreased by 8% from the previous year, marking the lowest recorded rate since 1969 (Boyce, Cotter and Perreault 2014). While there is interest in examining the connection between rate of police strength and the crime rate, police work includes more than preventing and responding to crime (see Text box 1).

Chart 1

Description for chart 1

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Text box 2
Canada continued to have a low rate of police strength in comparison to peer countries

According to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC),Note 1 Canada reported the fourth lowest rate of police strength in 2012,Note 2 when compared with the 14 peer countries for which data were available.Note 3 This placement has remained relatively consistent since 2003 (UNODC 2014c).

Of the peer countries, Belgium has had the highest rate of police strength per 100,000 population since 2003. In contrast, Finland and Norway have consistently had the lowest rates of police strength.

Compared to the United States, Canada's rate of police strength continues to be lower. In the 10 years for which UNODC data are available, Canada's average rate of police strength was 14% lower than that of the U.S.

Text box 2 Table
Rate of police strength, by peer country, 2003 to 2012
Table summary
This table displays the results of Rate of police strength. The information is grouped by Peer country (appearing as row headers), 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011 and 2012, calculated using Rate per 100,000 population units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Peer countryNote 1 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012
Rate per 100,000 population
Belgium 349.7 354.4 370.3 368.0 362.6 358.1 367.6 364.9 343.8 339.3
Austria Note ..: not available for a specific reference period 330.9 329.1 321.6 320.3 319.1 318.0 327.8 327.5 328.1
Germany 292.9 294.3 296.0 298.9 299.5 297.0 295.4 293.5 293.4 294.7
Ireland 299.6 298.8 294.9 306.5 320.6 331.2 329.8 321.8 307.2 293.4
France Note ..: not available for a specific reference period Note ..: not available for a specific reference period Note ..: not available for a specific reference period 316.9 314.6 310.4 304.0 297.0 290.3 290.1
Australia 221.4 222.0 220.3 Note ..: not available for a specific reference period 238.9 242.2 245.9 259.0 263.1 261.9
Netherlands 231.5 224.5 216.4 215.7 215.1 214.9 220.4 224.4 229.9 237.7
Switzerland 207.9 210.7 222.0 222.5 214.1 213.3 220.3 219.8 218.1 220.4
United States 226.6 228.7 225.8 227.1 230.4 231.1 228.4 225.8 221.8 211.2
Sweden 182.2 188.1 189.1 191.7 195.1 198.4 205.6 216.3 215.9 209.1
Japan Note ..: not available for a specific reference period Note ..: not available for a specific reference period 197.7 200.3 201.3 201.1 201.9 202.6 204.2 204.7
Canada 188.1 187.4 189.2 191.5 194.4 195.6 199.2 202.4 201.3 199.6
Denmark 192.3 194.2 195.9 201.5 198.1 195.4 196.3 199.7 194.9 192.2
Norway 176.8 178.0 161.8 160.8 158.1 157.1 158.1 157.1 157.4 159.0
Finland 159.0 157.7 157.0 157.8 154.1 154.0 155.5 152.0 151.8 148.6

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Authorized police strength greater than actual police strength

While police strength refers to the actual number of officers on the survey snapshot date of May 15, 2014, authorized strength refers to the number of positions that police services are authorized to fill during the fiscal or calendar year as of May 15.Note 4 More specifically, authorized police officer strength represents the number of police officer positions available throughout the year based on budget, regardless of whether or not these positions were filled on the snapshot date. By taking authorized strength into account, it is possible to have a fuller sense of police officer positions throughout the year.

In 2014, Canada’s authorized police strength was 71,457 positions, which equates to a rate of 201 per 100,000 population. The rate of authorized police strength decreased by 1.3% relative to that of the previous year.Note 5 In 2014, authorized police strength was 3.7% greater than actual strength (68,896). The number of positions authorized was larger than the number of actual positions in all provinces and territories. The greatest difference between these figures was found for RCMP Headquarters and Training Academy where authorized strength was 62% greater than actual strength (1,800 versus 1,111). Among the provinces and territories, the largest differences between authorized strength and actual strength were found in Nunavut (with a 14% difference) and the Northwest Territories (10%). The Yukon reported the smallest discrepancy between authorized and actual strength (less than 1%).

Differences between the number of authorized and actual positions can be explained by vacancies that are unfilled as of the snapshot date. For example, some of the difference could be accounted for by positions of police officers on long-term leave (for example, educational, disability, secondment, etc.) that are not backfilled.

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Text box 3
Police participation in international peacekeeping

Not only have police services become involved in addressing national and global issues such as organized crime, drugs, and border security (Hutchins 2014), Canadian police officers have worked to maintain law and order in several United Nations Missions since 1989 (Public Safety Canada 2014b). Police officer counts from the Police Administration Survey include officers who have been deployed for international peacekeeping, as well as for other work related to airports and ports. Since this survey does not distinguish between police officers who are available for policing duties in their community and those who are deployed for such work, data from United Nations Peacekeeping can help to formulate a picture of the level of participation in international peacekeeping of Canadian police officers.

According to United Nations Peacekeeping data, as of the end of May 2014, which most closely corresponds to the snapshot date of the 2014 Police Administration Survey, there were 16 UN Peacekeeping missions underway (United Nations Peacekeeping 2014c).Note 1 At that time, there were 84 Canadian police officers on mission, all of whom were in Haiti serving as members of the United Nations Stabilization Mission to Haiti (United Nations Peacekeeping 2014b).

Police represented 70% of Canada's total contribution to United Nations peacekeeping operations, with the remainder consisting of United Nations Military Experts on Mission and military troop personnel. Police were also the largest category of those deployed on peacekeeping missions from the United States (72%) and Sweden (57%). In contrast, for most peer countries, military troop personnel accounted for 80% or more of the peacekeeping personnel (United Nations Peacekeeping 2014a; Text box 3 Table).



Text box 3 Table
Persons deployed on international peacekeeping operations, by peer country, United Nations, May 2014
Table summary
This table displays the results of Persons deployed on international peacekeeping operations. The information is grouped by Peer country (appearing as row headers), Police , UN Military Experts on Mission, Military Troop Personnel and Total, calculated using number units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Peer countryNote 1 Police UN Military Experts on Mission Military Troop Personnel Total
number
United States 95 6 31 132
Canada 84 13 23 120
France 48 16 895 959
Sweden 36 20 7 63
Norway 32 19 43 94
Netherlands 31 14 531 576
Germany 19 8 203 230
Australia 15 20 11 46
Ireland 12 17 338 367
Switzerland 6 19 5 30
United Kingdom 2 0 284 286
Finland 1 24 350 375
Austria 1 7 218 226
Japan 0 0 271 271
Belgium 0 2 104 106
Denmark 0 15 59 74

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Manitoba continues to have the highest rate in police strength among the provinces

The rate of police strength across the provinces in 2014 ranged from 161 police officers per 100,000 population in Prince Edward Island to 206 officers per 100,000 population in Manitoba (Chart 2; Table 2). This was similar to the provincial picture in 2013, when Prince Edward Island also had the lowest rate (159) and Manitoba had the highest rate of police strength (213).Note 6  As has been the case historically, in 2014, rates of police strength were much higher in the territories, with the highest rate found in the Northwest Territories (440).

Chart 2

Description for chart 2

The rate of police strength decreased in 9 of the 13 provinces and territories in 2014. Prince Edward Island and Yukon reported increases, while Quebec and the Northwest Territories reported stable rates. There was little change in the rate of police strength in comparison to the previous year in most provinces and territories, ranging from -2% to +2% for most. However, changes were somewhat larger in New Brunswick (-4%) and Manitoba (-3%), and in Nunavut, the rate decreased by 10% (Table 2).

Compared with ten years ago (2004), rates of police strength in 2014 were higher in most of the provinces and territories. Rates were over 10% higher in British Columbia, the Northwest Territories, Newfoundland and Labrador, and Nova Scotia, while the increase was more modest (3% or less) in Saskatchewan, Ontario, and Quebec. Rates decreased from 2004 in three regions: New Brunswick (-1%), Yukon (-4%) and Nunavut (-21%) (Table 2).

In general, provinces and territories with higher rates of police strength had higher Crime Severity Index and Violent Crime Severity Index values

Given that police work includes more than preventing and responding to crime (see Text box 1), comparing the ranking of provinces and territories with respect to their rate of police strength with their ranking with respect to Crime Severity Index (CSI) and Violent Crime Severity Index (Violent CSI) must be interpreted with caution. For the most part, those provinces and territories with higher rates of police strength tended to also have higher Crime Severity Index (CSI) and Violent Crime Severity Index (Violent CSI) values, while those with lower rates of police strength tended to have lower CSI and Violent CSI values. For example, the territories, which had the highest rates of police strength, also had the highest CSI and Violent CSI values. Manitoba, the province with the highest rate of police strength in 2014, had the second highest CSI and highest Violent CSI among the provinces. In addition, Saskatchewan, the province with the second highest rate of police strength in 2014, had the highest CSI and second highest Violent CSI among the provinces. In contrast, Prince Edward Island, which had the lowest rate of police strength, also had the lowest Violent CSI value and a CSI value below that of the provinces and territories overall (Table 3).

There were some exceptions among the provinces. For example, while Alberta had one of the highest CSI and Violent CSI values among the provinces, it reported the second lowest rate of police strength overall. The opposite finding was true for Quebec, which had one of the highest rates of police strength among the provinces, but had the third lowest CSI and a relatively low Violent CSI value overall.

Winnipeg becomes the census metropolitan area with the highest rate of police strength

Several factors may contribute to differences in the rates of police strength and police-reported crime statistics between census metropolitan areas (CMAs)Note 7 or police services.Note 8 These include differences in police services’ priorities, policies, procedures and enforcement practices, and the availability of resources. For example, some police services may make greater use of municipal by-laws or provincial statutes for minor offences such as mischief and disturbing the peace. These infractions are not included in national police-reported crime statistics. Police-reported crime statistics can also be influenced by social and economic factors such as residents’ willingness to report incidents, residents’ attitudes toward crime and risky behaviour, age demographics, economic conditions, neighbourhood characteristics, and the emergence of new technologies (Perreault 2013).

The number of police officers at the CMA level includes those working for municipal police service(s) as well as municipal and/or rural detachments of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, Ontario Provincial Police, or the Sûreté du Québec responsible for policing the CMA. The highest rate of police strength among CMAs was found in Winnipeg (191 officers per 100,000 population), followed by Thunder Bay (187) and Montréal (186) (Chart 3, Table 4). In contrast, Saguenay reported the lowest rate, at 106 officers per 100,000 population. These findings were similar to those of the previous year.Note 9

Chart 3

Description for chart 3

Between 2013 and 2014, the rate of police strength decreased in more than half of the CMAs, increased in over one quarter, and remained stableNote 10 in the remainder. Most decreases in rates were relatively small, ranging from -0.6% in Winnipeg to -4.5% in Regina (Chart 3, Table 4).

As at the provincial and territorial level, comparing the ranking of CMAs with respect to their rate of police strength with their ranking with respect to CSI and Violent CSI must be interpreted with caution given that police work includes more than preventing and responding to crime (see Text box 1). Similar to provincial and territorial findings, those CMAs with higher rates of police strength tended to also have higher CSI and Violent CSI values, while those with lower rates of police strength tended to have lower CSI and Violent CSI values. For example, Winnipeg had both the highest rate of police strength and the highest Violent CSI value among the CMAs and Thunder Bay had both the second-highest rate of police strength and the second-highest Violent CSI value. However, Kelowna, which had a high CSI value, also had one of the lowest rates of police strength (124 officers per 100,000 population) (Table 4).

Slight decrease in ratio of police officers to civilians employed by police services

In addition to police officers, civilian personnel also play a role in the operation of a police service. Civilians employed by police services include clerks, dispatchers, managers, cadets, special constables,Note 11 security officers, school crossing guards, and by-law enforcement officers. The Police Administration Survey only collects data on civilian employees paid for by the police service. Therefore, if civilian employees of a police service are paid for by the municipality, such as in the case of RCMP detachments and some municipal police services, they are not captured by the survey.

On May 15, 2014 there were 28,409 civilians employed by police services across Canada (Table 1), representing 29% of total personnel. In other words, police services employed 2.4 police officers for every one civilian employee, representing a slight decrease from the ratio of 2.5 reported annually since 2007. Overall, the police officer to civilian ratio has narrowed since data was first collected in 1962. Then, the ratio was at a high of 4.6 officers for every civilian employee. In more recent years, the ratio was 2.9 in 1994 and 2.7 in 2004.

In 2014, civilian employees of police services most frequently occupied clerical support (35%) or management/professional positions (33%), with the smallest group of civilians being Native Special ConstablesNote 12 (less than 1%).

Most police officer hires are recruit graduates

Information on hirings and departures of police officers, as well as on police officer characteristics, can assist in human resources planning for the policing community. In the calendar or fiscal year of 2013Note 13 over 7 in 10 (73%) police officers hired in Canada were recruit graduates, while the remainder were experienced officers.Note 14 For most provinces, the majority of those hired were recruit graduates, with the exception of Prince Edward Island and Quebec, where the opposite was true. More specifically, in Prince Edward Island, only 14% of those hired were recruit graduates, followed by 31% in Quebec (Table 5).

As expected based on the finding that the majority of hirings involve recruit graduates, most police officers hired had relatively few years of service. More specifically, of hired police officers for whom information on years of serviceNote 15 was available, 88% had less than 5 years of experience, 4% had 5 to less than 10 years, 3% had 10 to less than 15 years, and the remaining officers had 15 or more years of experience (Table 6).

Over one in ten officers is eligible to retire

Information on hirings and departures corresponding to the calendar or fiscal year of 2013Note 16 suggests that there was a net loss of 557 police officers in Canada that year. Losses were found in both the provinces and territories (-466 officers) and the RCMP Headquarters and Training Academy (-91 officers). This contrasts with findings for the calendar or fiscal year of 2012, the previous year for which data are available, where the provinces and territories experienced a small net gain in police officers. In the calendar or fiscal year of 2013, most provinces experienced net losses in the number of police officers, the largest of which occurred in Quebec (-214 officers) and Ontario (-175 officers). In contrast, Alberta experienced a net gain (+90 officers), while Prince Edward Island, Saskatchewan, British Columbia, and the territories reported little to no change when the difference in hirings and departures was considered (Table 5).

The majority (68%) of departures from police services in the calendar or fiscal year of 2013 were due to retirements and the remainder (32%) were due to other reasons, including being hired by another police service. This was true for most provinces and territories, with the exception of New Brunswick, Saskatchewan, and Alberta where reasons for departure were nearly evenly distributed across the two categories. Newfoundland and Labrador had the highest proportion of departures due to retirements, at over 9 in 10 (94%) (Table 5).

In Canada, 11% of police officers, or 7,358, were eligible to retire in the calendar or fiscal year of 2013. Of the provinces and territories, the highest proportion of officers who could have retired was found in Newfoundland and Labrador (22%). The RCMP Headquarters and Training Academy reported that half (50%) of their officers were eligible to retire (Table 5).

Police Administration Survey data pertaining to the 2013 calendar or fiscal year show that the largest group among police officers eligible to retire were those who had 25 to less than 30 years of service (47%). However, the largest group among those who departed due to retirement were officers with 30 to less than 35 years of experience (42%) (Table 6).

Most police officers 40 years of age and older

The Police Administration Survey found that on the 2014 snapshot date, 54% of police officers were 40 years of age and older, while the remaining 46% were under 40 years of age. Although eligibility to retire may not be based solely on age and requirements may vary by police service, the Police Administration Survey can provide some insight into the distribution of police officers beginning their career and those nearing retirement. For example, 11.5% of police officers were reported to be under the age of 30 and 4.9% were reported to be 55 years and older (Chart 4).

Chart 4

Description for chart 4

Women in police services more often occupy civilian positions

Since the Police Administration Survey only collects human resources data at the aggregate level, rather than the individual police officer level, it is not possible to examine the gender distribution of police officers according to their level of experience and age. For example, it is not possible to compare the representation of women among recruit graduates with their representation among experienced police officers. However, it is possible to examine the representation of women in police services in general, as civilians by job type, and as police officers by rank.

While women accounted for about one-third (34%) of total personnel employed by police services on the 2014 snapshot date, they were found most often in civilian positions (57% of women employed in police services) and less often in police officer positions (43% of women employed in police services).

Among civilian employees, almost 9 in 10 (87%) clerical support staff were women, as were over three-quarters of communications/dispatch employees (76%). Women represented almost 6 in 10 of those employed as managers and professionals (57%) and as school crossing guards (56%). However, in comparison to men, women were much less often employed as recruitsNote 17 (22%) and by-law enforcement/parking control officers (30%) and security officers/guards (37%).

Since data became available in 1986, women have made up the majority of those employed in civilian positions in police services. The gap was narrowest in the late-1980s when women occupied between 55 and 59% of civilian positions and men occupied 41 to 45%. Since then, the gap has widened and women have consistently occupied more than 6 out of 10 civilian positions. In 2014, women represented 67% of civilians employed by police services.

Growth in proportion of female officers continues

With 14,175 female police officers on the 2014 snapshot date, the number of female officers in Canada once again grew slightly (+177 police officers, an increase of 1.3%) while the number of male officers once again declined somewhat (-531 police officers, a decrease of 1.0%). The proportion of women serving as police officers in Canada has been rising over the last decades. For example, in 1994, 9.1% of police officers were women, in comparison to 16.5% in 2004 and 20.6% in 2014 (Table 7). In comparison, the availability of women in the Canadian workforce was 48.2% in 2011 (Labour Program 2014).

Across the provinces and territories, the proportional representation of female officers ranged from a low of 8.4% in Nunavut to a high of 21.9% in British Columbia and 24.7% in Quebec (Table 8).

Percentage of female police officers in Canada is similar to the average for peer countries

Of the 12 peer countries for which national data was available from the UNODC, Canada reported the sixth largest percentage of female police officers in 2012Note 18 (UNODC 2014a, UNODC 2014b, Table 9). This proportion (20%) was similar to the average for these peer countries (19%).Note 19

More women in the higher ranks of policing

Women are accounting for more and more of those among the higher ranks of policing (Table 10). The proportion of non-commissioned officers who are women has been increasing since data on rank became available in 1986, and in more recent years, the representation of women among this rank has nearly doubled from 8.9% in 2004 to 17.6% in 2014. The proportion of senior officers who were women began to increase in 1989 and more than doubled in the last decade, from 5.2% in 2004 to 10.9% in 2014. As for women’s representation as constables,Note 20 the proportion increased from 1986 to 2007 and since then has remained relatively stable. In 2014, 22.2% of constables were female, compared to 5.4% in 1986 (Chart 5, Table 10).

Chart 5

Description for chart 5

Recruit graduates have higher proportion of college certificates or diplomas than experienced police officers

The educational requirements for police recruits differ among police services as well as across provinces. For example, the RCMP, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary, and the Ontario Provincial Police require a secondary school diploma or equivalency (Royal Canadian Mounted Police 2014, Royal Newfoundland Constabulary 2014, Ontario Provincial Police 2014). Applicants to the Sûreté du Québec are required to have an undergraduate degree or college diploma or its equivalent unless they have a diploma in technical police studies obtained in Quebec or experience as a police officer in Canada (Sûreté du Québec 2014a, Sûreté du Québec 2014b, Sûreté du Québec 2014c).

The 2014 Police Administration Survey can provide information on educational attainment at the national, provincial and territorial levels.Note 21 Across Canada, information on the highest level of education completed at the time of hiring was available for 37,654 officers (55% of all officers) as of the snapshot date. Information was more often available for recruit graduates (62%) than for experienced police officers (55%).

Of those police officers for whom information was available, about half (51%) had completed a college, CEGEP or other certificate or diploma at the time they were hired. Those with a university undergraduate degree at the time they were hired accounted for an additional 29%, and those with a high school diploma for 19%. A small proportion (1.6%) had university graduate degrees including master’s degrees and doctorates at the time they were hired. The remainder had other levels of education at time of hire.

A larger proportion of experienced police officers reported high school diploma as their highest level of education (19% versus 12% for recruit graduates) while recruit graduates more frequently reported college, CEGEP or other certificate or diploma (60% versus 50% for experienced police officers).

Variations in the distribution of education levels were found at the provincial and territorial level. In some areas, the most frequently reported level of education was consistent with findings for Canada overall. For example, college was the most frequently reported level of education in Prince Edward Island (51% of all police officers, the same proportion as for Canada) and Quebec (79% of officers). In contrast, the most frequently reported level of education for Yukon (44%) and RCMP Headquarters and Training Academy (47%) was an undergraduate degree. Finally, in other areas, the most frequently reported level of education was not as clear. For example, in New Brunswick, Northwest Territories, and Nunavut, police officers were more evenly distributed among those with high school, college, and undergraduate education, with a small proportion of officers having graduate education.

Expenditures totalled $13.6 billion in the calendar or fiscal year of 2013

Operating expenditures for police services as a whole in Canada totalled $13.6 billion in the calendar or fiscal year of 2013Note 22, and, after controlling for inflation,Note 23 decreased 0.6% in comparison to the previous year (Table 11). This overall decline was driven by a decrease in RCMP expenditures for Headquarters, federal and international operations, and national policing services (-11.7%).

After controlling for inflation, all provinces and territories except Newfoundland and Labrador and Nunavut reported an increase in total spending in 2013 in comparison to the previous year. More than half of the increases in total expenditures in the provinces and territories were between 1% and 2%, ranging from 1.0% in Quebec to 1.9% in Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia. In contrast, Yukon (9.0%) and New Brunswick (7.5%) reported the largest increases. Expenditures remained stable in Newfoundland and Labrador in comparison to the previous year (Table 12).Note 24 Expenditures decreased from 2012 to 2013 for Nunavut (-1.1%).

While constant dollar spending on policing services increased from the late 1990s through to 2010, it has been more variable in the past few years, decreasing in 2011 (-0.5%) and increasing in 2012 (+3.1%). Compared to a decade ago, police expenditures in constant dollars in Canada have increased by 37%.

The largest increases in total spending (including federal expenditures per province) in the last decade were found in Alberta (+71%) and Yukon (+57%). In contrast, among the provinces and territories, expenditures increased the least in Prince Edward Island (22%) (Table 13). No province or territory reported decreases in comparison to ten years before.

Compared to expenditures presented on their own, per capita expenditures, which take the size of the population into account, had more moderate increases in Canada from the late 1990s until the late 2000s (Table 11).

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Text box 4
Wages of police officers and those in similar occupations

One of several questions raised within the ongoing economics of policing and community safety discussion is the trend in police officer salaries (Public Safety Canada 2013). While the Police Administration Survey collects information on total expenditures on salaries, it does not distinguish between the salaries of police officers and civilians within a police service. However, a comparison of average hourly wages of police officers with those of other occupational groups over time is possible using Labour Force Survey (LFS) data.

Police officers, like those in other occupational groups, must abide by provincial standards and regulations and must achieve particular educational and/or training requirements. In addition to being involved in law enforcement and crime prevention and reduction, police officers are involved in assistance to victims, maintenance of public order and emergency response situations. These are responsibilities shared by those in other occupational groups. For example, firefighters and ambulance attendants are also involved in emergency response. Individuals working in these occupations, as well as nurses, counsellors, social workers, teachers, and community and social service workers provide assistance to others and are responsible for the well-being of others. While security guards differ from these occupational groups in terms of training, accountability, and service to the public, they are also involved in maintaining order and providing assistance. In addition, there have been discussions regarding increasing policing capacity by assigning civilians and private security to carry out support work alongside sworn police officers, called tiered policing (see Hutchins 2014).

When comparing full-time workers aged 25 to 54 in these occupational groups and controlling for inflation,Note 1 LFS data show that police officers earned the second highest average hourly wageNote 2 in 2013, at $28.22 (Text box 4 Table). The highest earners in 2013 within this age and comparison group were secondary school teachers, at an average wage of $29.45 hourly. Police wages were similar to those of registered nurses and elementary school and kindergarten teachers. Since 2003, secondary school teachers, police officers, and nurses have consistently had the highest wages among full-time workers aged 25 to 54 in the occupations analysed, generally followed by either firefighters or elementary school teachers.

In contrast, the lowest average earnings per hour among this group were for security guards and related occupations, at $14.62, and for community and social service workers, at $18.87. This finding has been consistent since 2003. In 2013, these occupational groups along with family, marriage and other related counsellors and ambulance attendants had wage rates lower than the average for all occupations analysed ($24.54). This was also true for the period beginning in 2003.

Between 2003 and 2013, the average hourly wage rate increased 12% for police officers after adjusting for inflation, as it did for elementary school and kindergarten teachers and firefighters, and similar to family, marriage and other related counsellors (+13%) and registered nurses (+11%). The lowest increase in average hourly wage rate for this period was for social workers (+4%) and security guards and related occupations (+7%). In contrast, the highest increases from 2003 to 2013 were for ambulance attendants and other paramedical occupations (+16%) and secondary school teachers (+15%).

When examining percentage changes from year-to-year over the last decade, average hourly wage rates have been increasing for most of these occupations and for most years. While wages for the other occupational groups analysed have been more variable, police officer wages have consistently been increasing since 2005 with the exception of 2011.



Text box 4 Table
Average hourly wage rate of full-time workers aged 25 to 54, by occupational group, constant (2002) dollars, 2003 to 2013
Table summary
This table displays the results of Average hourly wage rate of full-time workers aged 25 to 54. The information is grouped by Occupational Group (appearing as row headers), 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2013 and Percent change 2003 to 2013, calculated using dollars and percent units of measure (appearing as column headers).
Occupational GroupNote 1 2003 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 Percent change 2003 to 2013
dollars percent
Secondary School Teachers 25.64 26.09 26.19 26.00 26.12 26.48 27.67 28.64 28.55 28.76 29.45 15
Police Officers 25.31 24.76 25.14 25.94 26.16 26.60 27.56 27.63 27.57 27.69 28.22 12
Registered Nurses 25.09 25.38 25.31 25.54 25.98 26.32 27.37 28.02 27.94 27.85 27.89 11
Elementary School and Kindergarten Teachers 24.72 24.75 24.93 25.22 25.55 25.85 26.77 27.27 27.30 27.24 27.57 12
Firefighters 24.22 23.73 24.10 25.18 25.32 25.73 27.00 26.93 26.84 27.32 27.17 12
Social Workers 23.94 24.11 23.90 23.57 23.85 24.39 24.82 24.44 24.65 24.96 24.89 4
Ambulance Attendants and Other Paramedical Occupations 21.02 21.18 21.22 21.74 22.07 21.94 22.93 23.09 23.52 24.24 24.39 16
Family, Marriage and Other Related Counsellors 19.71 20.32 20.08 20.22 21.26 21.73 22.24 21.76 21.33 22.07 22.33 13
Community and Social Service Workers 17.23 16.90 16.90 17.64 17.84 17.84 18.98 19.06 18.55 18.64 18.87 10
Security Guards and Related Occupations 13.63 13.14 13.47 13.51 13.21 13.52 14.24 14.30 14.04 14.37 14.62 7

End of text box

Conclusion

The Police Administration Survey contributes to the economics of policing and community safety discussions by producing data on the relative number of sworn police officers and civilians employed in police services, police costs, demographic characteristics of police officers, and their education.

In 2014, the rate of police strength in Canada continued to decline. Following growth in the 2000s and remaining stable between 2010 and 2011, the rate of police strength has decreased every year since. In addition to sworn police officers, police services reported employing 28,409 civilians in 2014, representing 29% of total personnel. The proportion of civilians employed within police services has been increasing since data was first collected in 1962. For example, a decade ago, there were 2.7 officers employed for every civilian, compared to 2.4 in 2014.

Additionally, data from this survey can provide insight into the demographics of police officers and their hirings and retirements. For example, it found that of officers hired by police services during the calendar or fiscal year of 2013, over 7 in 10 (73%) were recruit graduates, with the remainder having more experience as police officers. During this same period, it was reported that 11% of police officers were eligible for retirement, yet only 2% of police officers actually retired. Retirements were the most common reason officers left a police service (68%).

Further, the Police Administration Survey found that expenditures on policing totalled $13.6 billion in the 2013 calendar or fiscal year. Controlling for inflation, this marked a decrease of 0.6% from the previous year. While constant dollar spending on policing services increased from the late 1990s through to 2010, it has been more variable in the past few years, decreasing in 2011 and increasing in 2012.

While the Police Administration Survey is a source for some key annual measures, the economics of policing and community safety discussions have identified a need for broader information that would assist to identify and monitor workload, performance and efficiencies in the area of policing and community safety. For example, discussions have identified a need for more detailed information on police expenditures, such as the salaries for officers versus civilians; the cost of training; revenues generated by police, and; calls for service and resources required to respond to different call types (Public Safety Canada 2014a; Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security 2014). There are a number of initiatives underway within Canada to analyse such questions that will require on-going collaboration among stakeholders.

Survey descriptions

The Police Administration Survey collects data on police personnel and expenditures from each municipal, provincial and federal (RCMP) police service in Canada. First Nations police personnel and expenditures falling under the jurisdiction of the RCMP are reported under RCMP federal policing.

The following federal policing and security agencies are excluded from the survey: the Canadian Security Intelligence Service, and railway and military police. Federal and provincial government departments deploying personnel to enforce specific statutes in the areas of income tax, customs and excise, immigration, fisheries and wildlife are also excluded. As well, private security guards and private investigators are not included in this survey.

Data presented in this report represent police personnel as of May 15, 2014 and final expenditures for the calendar year 2013 or 2013/2014 for those services operating on a fiscal year. Most municipal police services operate on a calendar year while the provincial services and the RCMP operate on a fiscal year.

Personnel counts are based on permanent, full-time equivalents; part-time employees are converted to full-time equivalents (e.g., 4 employees working 10 hours per week would equal 1 full-time employee working a 40-hour week). Police officers include the actual number of sworn police officers available for active duty as of May 15, 2014. Other employees include all civilian personnel, including clerks, dispatchers, managers, cadets, special constables, security officers, school crossing guards, and by-law enforcement officers.

Counts for temporary officers are not included in any of the police officer counts, as only permanent, full-time officers (and full-time equivalents) are included. Temporary police officers are hired to fill in, as needed, for permanent police officers. The province of Quebec employs more temporary police officers than any other jurisdiction. Of the 880 temporary officers reported in 2014, 783 or 89% were employed in Quebec.

Police expenditures are actual operating expenditures and include: salaries and wages, benefits, and other operating expenses such as accommodation costs, fuel, maintenance, etc. Capital expenditures, revenues and recoveries are not included.

In 2014, the Police Administration Survey included the Supplemental questionnaire for the third time, which captured detailed information on hirings, departures, eligibility to retire, years of service, age, education, visible minority status and language. However, due to data quality issues, some of this information, including data on official and non-official languages, are not analysed in this article.

The majority of the information collected through the main and supplemental questionnaires is based on the May 15 survey snapshot day. Other data, including those on annual hirings, departures, eligibility to retire, and expenditures, are collected based on the previous calendar year or fiscal year.

Some police services are unable to provide one or more of the data elements asked for on the Supplemental Police Administration Survey questionnaire. In these cases, the police services are excluded from related percent calculations and a note explaining coverage for the data element is included in the text or table.

Data from the Uniform Crime Reporting (UCR) Survey are also included in this report to provide appropriate caseload context for the police in terms of the volume of criminal incidents coming to their attention. The UCR Survey collects police-reported crime and traffic offences reported by all police services in Canada, dating back to 1962, and is the basis for the crime rate, CSI and Violent CSI information.

Detailed data tables

Table 1 Trends in police strength and expenditures, Canada, 1962 to 2014

Table 2 Police officers by level of policing, by province and territory, 2014

Table 3 Rates of police strength and selected crime statistics, by province and territory, 2013 and 2014

Table 4 Police officers and selected crime statistics, by census metropolitan area, 2014

Table 5 Hirings and departures of police officers, Canada, by province and territory, 2013

Table 6 Hirings and departures of police officers, by overall years of service, Canada, 2013

Table 7 Police officers by sex, Canada, 1986 to 2014

Table 8 Police officers by sex, by province and territory, 2014

Table 9 Female police officers as a percentage of total police officers, by peer country, 2004 to 2012

Table 10 Male and female police officers by rank, Canada, 1986 to 2014

Table 11 Current and constant (2002) dollar expenditures on policing, Canada, 1986 to 2013

Table 12 Total expenditures on policing, current dollars, by province and territory, 2013

Table 13 Total expenditures on policing, constant (2002) dollars, by province or territory, 2003 to 2013

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Notes

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