Kingston’s police force is stressing over several provincial grants that have been frozen by Ontario Premier Doug Ford‘s PC government.
Those grants total over $1.6 million. And officials say that if they aren’t unfrozen or ultimately approved by the provincial government, there could be issues come budget time.
John Howes, Kingston police director of finance, says the province hasn’t indicated when it will decide the fate of those grants.
Howes said if the matter isn’t resolved by the end of December, when Kingston’s municipal fiscal year comes to an end, it could mean trouble for the police’s budget. Howes also mentioned that the province’s fiscal year ends in March, so Ontario’s deadline for funding decisions doesn’t coincide with the city’s budget timeline.
“The city is impacted by the whole government funding as well,” says Kingston police chief-designate Antje McNeely. “It’s going to impact the city, city-wide.”
Ford’s government says it’s reviewing the province’s books for efficiencies. Meanwhile, it’s put holds on funding across the province.
The money designated for the Kingston police force would go to a number of divisions within the police department. One grant worth more than $950,000 is meant to go toward things like training and equipment that officers can use to respond to mental health and crisis calls, and tools like electronic stun guns and protective vests that can help officers in the field.
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“Hopefully, we would be reducing the amount of apprehensions we’d be making. We would be dealing with the situations with a much more holistic fashion and more expedited fashion,” the chief-designate said.
Another grant in limbo is one for prisoner transfer and court security. These grants are meant to come in four installments a year, but two deposits of $360,000 are currently on hold.
McNeely says the more than $1.6 million that is currently frozen would leave a huge dent in the police budget — one the service wouldn’t be able to recover from.
“I think we’ll have to have some discussions with our partners on that, with the city council.”
Otherwise, at the last week’s police services board meeting, Howes said the department would be on budget for the year — but only if those grants are approved by the Ford government.
-With files from Alexandra Mazur