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Region's pandemic-related policing costs approaching $5 million

Police involvement with the Waterloo Region COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force a major contributor to increased cost
WRPS headquarters
Waterloo Regional Police Service headquarters on Maple Grove Road in Cambridge.

Additional costs incurred by the Waterloo Region Police Service since the start of the pandemic are approaching $5 million and could rise as high as $8 million by year-end, according to a report being tabled Wednesday by the service’s finance unit.

This year alone, various costs associated with police response to the pandemic totalled an additional $1.91 million and could balloon as high as $4 million by year-end due in large part to the force’s involvement in the Waterloo Region COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution Task Force. 

In 2020, WRPS spent an additional $2.92 million on its pandemic response.

Direct impact costs affecting the operating or capital budget are $173,000 so far this year, including personal protection equipment (PPE) and facility expenses. 

WRPS entered a short-term offsite lease to provide adequate recruitment and training activities, as existing facilities were deemed insufficient. 

The finance unit projects WRPS will tally a further $535,000 in direct costs this year due mainly to the lease. 

It's the indirect costs that are harder to predict.

They include loss of productivity when members are redeployed to assist with COVID-19 activities, like the vaccine distribution task force, or members who aren’t able to work while isolating or sick.

Since March 2020, 32 members of the organization have tested positive for COVID-19. This includes sworn and civilian members from six different buildings in Waterloo Region.

So far this year, the force has incurred $1.7 million in indirect costs, attributed mainly to salaries for members who were either redeployed or were being paid but not able to work while self-isolating due to possible exposure. 

WRPS budgeted $188,000 for pandemic-related activities in 2021, including PPE, and increased cleaning at WRPS facilities. 

The Region of Waterloo received Safe Restart Phase 1 funding from the province and has allocated $500,000 to the WRPS to offset COVID-19 related expenses and revenue losses. 

Police have been monitoring additional costs attributed to COVID-19 since the onset of the pandemic in March 2020. 

The latest report will be part of Wednesday’s police service board meeting.

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