Quebec provincial police to help fill gap left by Nunavik officer shortage
“This is an issue for me every day,” says Nunavik Police Service chief
Quebec provincial police will help staff Nunavik communities this spring.
The Sûreté du Québec will temporarily assign 20 of its officers to work in the region starting this week while the Nunavik Police Service deals with an officer shortage.
The NPS went from an almost-full complement of 86 officers in February to just 66 this month, said Chief Jean-Pierre Larose.
“It’s the same problem we have every year,” Larose said. “I’ve lost a number of my officers to organizations in the south who recruit for the summer.”
And with COVID-19 restrictions in place, Quebec’s police training school in Nicolet has offered fewer programs over the past year, he said.
Starting March 24, the NPS will assign one or two SQ officers to each of Nunavik’s 14 communities to work alongside officers already stationed there.
Regardless of the SQ presence, the NPS remains the agency that manages policing in the region, Larose said.
The region has called on the SQ for staffing support before, most recently in 2019. Those officers stayed in Nunavik for about three months.
In the meantime, the NPS will focus on recruitment activities to hire a full staff again, but Larose said that will require some creative thinking.
Over the last 12 months, Larose said he’s seen 53 officers rotate in and out of the agency.
“This is an issue for me every day,” he said. “We want to have stability in our communities.”
In recent years, the NPS has looked to hiring retired officers in Quebec and hosting nine-month-long internships for Montreal police officers to give them northern experience. The agency has also recruited from police colleges in Ontario and the Maritimes.
Now, Larose said he’s approached Quebec’s ministry of public security with a proposal to create an agreement that would allow the agency to recruit directly from police training schools.
“We’re very restrained. We have to find a way to allow us to hire,” he said. “They’ve said they’re open to discussing this.”