FCM numbers highlight cannabis policing funding gap between Alberta cities and municipalities in Ontario, Quebec


Numbers from the Federation of Canadian Municipalities offer more insight after claims made by Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci that his government is providing funding for cannabis policing equal to what is being given out in Ontario and Quebec.

Last week, Ceci announced Alberta cities would share $11 million to cover policing, licensing and other municipal costs. He said Calgary would be getting $2.3 million in the first year and $1.5 in the second, while Edmonton is getting $1.7 million and $1.1 million.

He defended those numbers on Thursday.

“On the same basis that Ontario and Quebec has come up with their per capita grant for their municipalities… we’re within the ballpark,” Ceci told reporters in Calgary.

“That’s where we stand,” he added, saying the current funding will remain in place for two years. “We’re going to keep looking at the evidence that municipalities bring forward, but for the time being, the program stands as is.”

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Yet numbers from the FCM that were supplied to Global News show Ontario has a slightly higher per capita amount for its $40 million and it’s 13.6 million population. It works out to $2.90 per person, while Alberta’s $11.1 million and 4.1 million population comes in a $2.70 for every Albertan.

When Edmonton City Councillor Tony Caterina was shown the numbers, he said if we Alberta municipalities received Ontario’s per capita grant, it would mean an additional $3 million to be shared among Edmonton, Calgary and the others.

“Not enough, but it would help,” Caterina said.

However, there’s more. The FCM says Ontario municipalities have a secondary money source.

“As the revenues exceed $100 million (which shouldn’t be too hard to hit in Ontario), that contribution to municipalities continues to climb,” said a briefing note sent to Global News.

Caterina, a board member with the Alberta Urban Municipalities Association, says he sees no reason why climbing revenue shouldn’t be shared.

“We have no funding formula outside of the per capita, where Ontario has the 50 per cent share over a certain amount,” he said in an interview on Friday.

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“I think we need to be much more vocal about what is going on and the commitments that we need from this provincial government.”

Alberta Finance estimates project there will be a total net loss on cannabis in 2018-19 of $17 million, a total net gain of $33 million in 2019-20 and then by the third year, a much stronger revenue total of $136 million in 2020-21. The numbers are based on adding Alberta’s cannabis excise tax revenue to AGLC net income.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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