Figures show police departments across Canada are becoming more diverse, albeit slowly, as they shrink in size, while becoming more expensive.
According to Police resources in Canada, 2018 prepared by Statistics Canada, police departments of various categories employed 68,562 officers across Canada as of May 2018, a decrease of 463 from 2017. This figure means 185 officers per 100,000 population, a drop of two per cent from the previous year.
Looking at specific communities for Greater Victoria with available figures, Saanich recorded 158 officers per 100,000, while Victoria recorded 215 officers for 100,000. So the largest community in Greater Victoria has fewer officers than the national average per 100,000, while the second largest community has a ratio of officers per 100,000 above the national average.
The size of the respective departments in Saanich and Victoria has been a source of contention between police top brass and elected officials, with both departments claiming the need for additional staffing resources.
The report also finds that salaries, wages and benefits added up to the largest cost for Canadian police services, accounting for 82 per cent of operating expenditures in 2017-2018, or $12.5 billion. According to the report, the average salary for police officers in Canada nearly reached six figures — $99,298 to be precise. Significant resources have also gone towards information technology ($380 million) and police equipment ($248 million).
If the cost of policing continues to go, its sociology has also changed, according to the report.
Whereas women accounted for four per cent of officers in 1986, they now make up 22 per cent. Looking at other groups, eight per cent of officers and 12 per cent of recruits self-identified as members of a visible minority in 2018, while four per cent of officers and three per cent of recruits identified as Indigenous.
Notably, the share of police officers and recruits who either identify as a visible minority or as Indigenous remains below the population at large. According to the 2016 census, visible minorities accounted for 22.3 per cent of the Canadian population, while 4.9 per cent identified as Indigenous, with both categories trending upward.