The Brandon Police Association’s 120 members will be getting a raise this year, and next year and in 2016, thanks to a new three-year collective agreement with the City of Brandon.
The 85 sworn members will see salary increases of three per cent in 2014 and 2015, and 2.75 per cent in 2016. Non-sworn members will be granted wage increases of 2.5 per cent this year, followed by two per cent in both 2015 and 2016.
"I think from the executive and the membership, we understand that economics are a concern," said BPA president Sgt. Kevin Loewen. "I think it shows responsibility by both sides to come to a fair and equitable conclusion."
Linda Poole, the city’s deputy director of human resources, said she believes the agreement is fair and is pleased it is a longer contract.
"The last three years we’ve had one-year agreements," she said.
City manager Scott Hildebrand said the three-year agreement provides the city with stability and a sense of direction.
"It was a great process and I think the Brandon city police understand that our economy right now and some of the things we’re working through are difficult situations," Hildebrand said. "Although they could have gone to arbitration, they were reasonable and felt like two (per cent) and three (per cent) made sense to them and that’s what we were able to negotiate."
BPS Chief Ian Grant is satisfied with the new contract.
"I want what’s fair for our employees and it keeps them here. I also understand the implications in terms of budgeting and the community’s views, so I think this strikes a fair balance."
Grant says the proposed 2014 police budget won’t have to be adjusted in light of this year’s pay increase.
The chief said fixed pay increases for the next few years should make planning and budgeting easier. When it comes to pay increases for 2015 and 2016, he said it’s premature to say whether they’ll result in cuts.
Grant said the raises for BPS officers are consistent with a trend that has brought increases in other forces across the country during the last 13 years.
Other improvements to the contract include an increase in shift differential for non-sworn members (raised by 20 cents per hour), indexing for non-sworn members when they reach 12 years of service, a reduction in per diems when travelling and a commitment by both sides to consider job-sharing for sworn members.
The deal received final approval from the Brandon Police Association and Brandon City Council on Monday.
The new contract follows a 4.44 per cent increase for sworn members last year (plus a smaller boost in July) and two per cent the year before.
All told, police salaries have ballooned by about 50 per cent over the past decade. By the time this newest contract expires, in 2016, the base wage for a standard first-class constable will be more than $92,000 — up from less than $58,000 in 2005.
According to the Bank of Canada’s inflation calculator, $58,000 in 2005 is the equivalent of $66,000 today.
"Protective services are certainly garnering wage increases that the rest of the public sector aren’t seeing, some of that’s through arbitration awards," Poole said. "I can’t really comment on why the trend is happening, but it certainly is."
A starting wage for a new Brandon Police Service recruit is $43,000, while a first-class constable makes $87,000.
"They start off as a recruit and then they work their way up to first class," Poole said.
» email@example.com, with files from Grant Hamilton and Ian Hitchen