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Surrey finance manager says city staff weren’t involved with SPS contract negotiations

‘We were not involved at all,’ city’s finance manager Kam Grewal says
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Former Surrey mayor Doug McCallum and Surrey Police Board member Jessie Sunner signed off March 14, 2022 on what Councillor Gordon Hepner recently described as “the richest police contract in all of Canada,” for the Surrey Police Service.

McCallum was chairman of the board and Sunner was vice-chair when they put their signatures, on behalf of the Surrey Police Board, to the first collective agreement for the fledgling Surrey Police Union.

In reply to Hepner’ question at council’s finance committee meeting March 6, Surrey’s general manager of finance Kam Grewal said city staff were not involved with negotiations.

“There’s a collective agreement that somebody has signed. I need to know when did you see the collective agreement for the SPS and did the City have anything to do with its signing because that’s the richest police contract in all of Canada,” Hepner requested.

Grewal replied, “In relation to that collective bargaining agreement I can tell you that the City of Surrey or any of its staff were not involved at all with those negotiations. It’s my understanding that after execution several months after that agreement was executed there were bits and pieces of that agreement that became available, currently it is available online, but this is, you know, six, eight, nine months after execution. We were not involved at all.”

Letter of Understanding “D” in the contract, under the heading “Termination during the Policing Transition,” expires on Dec. 30, 2024 and provides for at least 18 months’ notice of termination to the union and employees “in the event there is a decision to cease or reverse the transition to Surrey Police Service.”

During this notice period, it reads, the employer in its sole discretion may require the employees to continue with their duties, assignment, tasks or projects, assign them to other duties, or provide severance which “shall be the value of base, and straight time wages (not including overtime, premiums associated with being actively at work, and other premiums) that the Employer would otherwise be entitled to for the portion of the Notice Period from which the Employee has been excused.”

The contract states that an employee who is “in receipt of Severance and subsequently obtains work as a Police Officer, must immediately notify the Employer. Their remaining severance payments will be reduced by fifty percent (50%).”

Public Safety Minister and Solicitor General has yet to render a decision if Surrey should maintain the RCMP as its police of jurisdiction or continue with the transition from the Surrey RCMP to the Surrey Police Service.

The RCMP has been Surrey’s police of jurisdiction since it took over from the Surrey Police on May 1, 1951, as the result of a plebiscite. Surrey’s is the largest RCMP detachment in all of Canada.

On Nov. 5, 2018, the council of the day, led by McCallum, served notice to the provincial and federal governments that it would end its contract with the RCMP to set up its own force.

Four years and one civic election later, on Nov. 14, 2022, the current council led by Mayor Brenda Locke decided on a 5-4 vote to maintain the Surrey RCMP as this city’s police of jurisdiction instead of forging ahead with the Surrey Police Service.

Meantime, on Friday the SPS issued a press release that it is “celebrating the graduation of the very first class of SPS recruits from the Justice Institute of British Columbia (JIBC) Police Academy on March 10th.”

“These fourteen Qualified Municipal Constables will now officially begin their policing careers here in Surrey, with their deployment into operational policing beginning on March 13th,” the press release states.

A statement attributed to Chief Constable Norm Lipinski extends his congratulations to the recruits.

“This will forever be a significant memory for these new police officers, and it is an equally important milestone for Surrey Police Service,” the statement reads. “I look forward to working with these officers and the many others who will graduate from future JIBC classes wearing the SPS uniform.”



tom.zytaruk@surreynowleader.com

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About the Author: Tom Zytaruk

I write unvarnished opinion columns and unbiased news reports for the Surrey Now-Leader.
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