Saskatchewan politicians are raising concerns after a report recommended RCMP’s Depot police training academy in Regina be phased out for a new degree-style system.
A report released Thursday into the 2020 shooting rampage in Nova Scotia that left 22 people dead recommended the phaseout by 2032, and that provinces instead establish three-year policing degree programs.
The RCMP has been training recruits at the Depot for the past 140 years. It has strong ties to Regina and has been a source of heritage, employment and tourism in the province.
Opposition NDP Leader Carla Beck, the member of the legislative assembly for Regina Lakeview, said she opposes the proposal.
“It’s deeply concerning and not only as an MLA for Regina, but also as someone very proud of the tradition of the RCMP in this province,” Beck told reporters. “I think this seems an extreme measure, especially at a time when we have a shortage of officers across the country.”
The report denounces the RCMP response to the killings in Nova Scotia and says phasing out the facility and replacing it with a new training system would help make communities safer in the future.
RCMP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Premier Scott Moe said he has to go through the recommendations but questioned the need to move training out of Depot and establish new degree programs.
Moe said this change would prevent Mounties from being placed into communities sooner, noting the RCMP is already experiencing staffing shortages.
“Without seeing the details of the recommendation, my first blush would be that this would be another hurdle in training more officers,” he said. “I would say that the RCMP model and the recruits and the people who are in our communities have served us well.”
Beck said the premier should advocate to keep the training academy in Regina by sitting down with all levels of government and the RCMP.
She said a phaseout would have “deep implications” for Regina.
“It’s huge: hundreds of jobs right here in the City of Regina,” she said.
“There’s the heritage centre, there’s the Depot and the sense of history, the pride that we take. If you look at a tourism advertisement for the city, most likely you’re going to see the Red Serge, you’re going to see the Depot.”
Should Depot be phased out, the report recommends RCMP work with Indigenous communities to determine how the land and facility should be used in the future.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 30, 2023.