Bad News: This Isn't Reallocation

Black Lives Matter march in Calgary, June 3, 2020. Photo credit: Jon Yee

On October 14, 2020, the Calgary Police Commission and the Calgary Police Service (CPS) submitted a proposed budget document to Calgary City Council. This document was publicly released on November 7. We reviewed this document with great interest, due to CPS’ commitment to reallocate funding to our communities.

This budget submission suggests  that CPS does not actually intend to honour this commitment to reallocation. We call on Council and CPS to keep their promises and reallocate at least 5% of the existing police budget to the Community Safety Investment Framework.   

The CPS claim that their budget submission represents a $40-million dollar “adjustment”—here is their breakdown:

  1. $10 million in savings from eliminating 60 new positions in 2021
  2. $10 million reallocation toward exploring alternative call response models in 2021
  3. $20 million absorption of COVID-related impacts in 2020 ($11.75m) and 2021 (approx. $8m)

The CPS further claim that their budget submission will “accelerate actions to improve equity, diversity and inclusion within CPS and in its relationship with all segments of our community.”

We disagree. Here’s why:

The Police Broke Their Promises

The month before CPS’ budget submission, Police Chief Neufeld and his deputies confirmed that they support "reallocating resources from our existing budget to work with community partners to develop alternative ways to respond to Calgarians in crisis". They committed to work “hand in hand with our diverse communities to collaboratively ensure fair and equitable outcomes for Calgarians.”

The CPS budget submission breaks these promises as follows:



Approved Motion

CPS Proposed Budget






CPS Base Expenditure (Net)*





Proposed Reallocation to Communities





Proposed Cut to CPS Funding





CPS Adjusted Base Expenditure





Change from 2020






  • The CPS forgoing future budget increases is not reallocation. The CPS broke their promise to reallocate funding from their existing budget (i.e the 2020 CPS budget of $401 million). Instead, the CPS proposes to make reallocations from their increased 2021 budget of $414 million. This makes no sense, because it’s money they don’t even have yet. It’s like committing to a salary cut while still expecting a raise. 

  • COVID-related costs are unrelated to fulfilling CPS’ commitment of reallocating a portion of it’s existing budget to communities to help address systemic racism. The CPS is trying to claim that their extra COVID-related costs are somehow a reallocation of their budget. In reality, many City of Calgary departments have had to take on extra COVID-related costs. To claim this is funding to help address systemic racism is disingenuous.

  • Moving money around CPS’ budget is not reallocation - Of the $10 million proposed for reallocation, $8 million is earmarked for CPS to work with partners and $2 million is to be reallocated internally within CPS. CPS does not publicly release line by line budgets so there is no transparency as to what accounting games they might be playing.  CPS must keep its promise to reallocate money from its budget to communities

  • It appears that the CPS’ October 14 budget submission was drafted without the input of these same diverse communities. Twenty-four days passed between when the CPS budget submission was drafted and when it was publicly released. There is no evidence in the submission that the CPS consulted with diverse communities during this period. As a result, this submission breaks the CPS’ promise to work hand in hand with diverse communities. 

This isn’t reallocation: This is just an accounting game. 

The Police Ignored Council’s Direction

The CPS budget submission is dated October 14, but was kept secret for weeks until its release around November 7, 2020. On November 2, Council voted to review reallocation of 5% of the CPS budget to fund a new Community Safety Investment Framework. Council is in charge of the overall CPS budget. However, CPS ignored Council’s direction and did not bother to update its budget submission. This should be offensive to Council Members, and all Calgarians who they represent. Any relevant CPS budget document must refer to the 5% reallocation. This is not a negotiation. CPS must respect, not ignore, Council’s decisions.

A 5% reduction to the CPS budget is a modest first step to rebuild trust. This proposed reduction and reallocation of funds to communities will begin to rectify systemic barriers in the lives of Black, Indigenous, other racialized communities and 2SLGBTQ+ people. We call on Calgary City Council and CPS to follow through on Council’s direction to reallocate 5% of the CPS budget to fund a new Community Safety Investment Framework.

The Police Must Stop Hiding the Facts and Work With City Council and the Community

Municipal funding for CPS has increased in 13 of the last 14 years, well exceeding population growth, inflation and the Calgary city budget as a whole. Calgarians have little to no insight on how the CPS spends our money. The CPS submission does not include sufficient information about the police budget. Calgarians should demand more transparency on how the police are spending taxpayer money. This is especially critical when their commitment to reallocation amounts to a glorified accounting exercise. At an absolute minimum, we call on the CPS to release their line-by-line budget and justification for reallocation numbers for the 2020 fiscal year. Anything less than this level of transparency erodes the public’s trust in this process.