The RCMP wastes millions of dollars issuing “make work” ATTs.
The Trudeau Liberals’ Bill C-71 will require law-abiding firearms owners to make a separate request for an ATT each time they want to take a handgun to a gunsmith or gun show or anyplace other than to a shooting range. Bill C-71 reverses a simplification introduced by the Conservatives back in 2015 with Bill C-42 which attached the ATT to the firearms licence. ATTs cannot be justified on public safety grounds, but it will cost taxpayers millions of dollars.
Thanks to a question by Conservative MP, Mr. Larry Maguire (Brandon-Souris, Manitoba), we can now estimate how much it cost the RCMP to issue ATTs over the past decade. Based on the RCMP’s response to his question, it is clear that the RCMP wasted over one million dollars annually from 2008 to 2015 issuing authorizations to transport firearms (ATTs) — every one issued unnecessarily.
The RCMP justifies ATTs that they protect the public but it is unable to provide evidence for this claim because the Police do not bother to collect statistics about how many ATTs resulted in criminal charges, firearm licences being revoked, or firearms being seized. The RCMP collects statistics on activity, not effectiveness; this suggests their primary interest is to justify staffing needs, not public safety.
Issuing ATT’s is a “make work” exercise because requests are almost always automatically accepted — there are exceptionally few refusals. Over the ten-year period (2008 – 2017), the RCMP issued 992,139 ATTs and refused just 17. For three of these years, there were no refusals at all. Not one. Tax payers spent $10 million over ten years for this useless activity.
Here is how I calculated this cost: In its response to MP Maguire’s questions, the RCMP reported that 4.49 Full Time Equivalent employees (FTE’s) were required each year to issue 468,794 ATTs between 2008 and 2017 in the provinces and territories where CFOs report directly to the RCMP (i.e., BC, Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Newfoundland and Labrador, Yukon, the Northwest Territory, and Nunavut.
During this 10-year period, another 523,345 ATTs were issued by the five provinces (Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, and PEI) that manage their provincial CFO’s (Chief Firearms Office) independently of the RCMP. Assuming that these CFO’s are just as efficient as those that report directly to the RCMP, then these five provinces would have required 5.01 FTEs to issue the 523,345 ATTs. (Calculated as one FTE per 104,408 ATTs per year – or 468,794 divided by 4.49).
Adding the two FTEs together, gives a total of 9.50 FTEs (4.49 + 5.01) required to issue the 992,139 ATTs for Canada as a whole during this ten-year period (2008-2017).
How much does this “make work” activity cost the taxpayer? According to Parliamentary Budget Officer, Kevin Page, it costs $114,000 annually in salary and benefits for an average civil servant in 2012. And the PBO estimated that average compensation for salaries and benefits will reach $129,800 in the next three years (i.e., by 2015). Costs may be higher in 2018.
Thus, 9.5 FTEs multiplied by $114,000 gives $1,083,282.36 — the minimum cost of issuing ATT’s each year.
The costs issuing ATTs were drastically reduced when, in 2015, the former Harper government introduced Bill C-42 which attached the ATTs to firearms licence. This meant that separate ATTs didn’t have to be issued for each trip to or from a gun store, gun show, shooting range or any other legitimate activity for a law-abiding PAL holder.
This drop can be seen in the RCMP’s response to the questions by Conservative MP, Mr. Larry Maguire (Brandon-Souris, Manitoba). The RCMP reported that the number of ATTs issued in 2016 and 2017 were just 26% of previous numbers.
2008 – 2015 116,574
Thus, the Harper Conservatives Bill C-42 not only reduced the bureaucratic hassles for law-abiding firearms owners, Bill C-42 also saved Canadian tax payers hundreds of thousands of dollars each and every year since.
These savings will be lost, of course, with the passage of the Trudeau Liberals’ Bill C-71.
For background information. In Canada, law abiding firearms owners, if they are stopped while when transporting a restricted weapon, must be able to show a police officer a current ATT in addition to their firearms licence and the registration slip for the restricted weapon. As well, the restricted weapon (typically a handgun) must be unloaded, sport a trigger lock, and be in a locked container.