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Vancouver police officers vote 96.9% in favour of new contract

Agreement will see 4.5% salary increase this year and another $4.5% in 2024
Vancouver police officers will see pay increases of 4.5 per cent this year and another 4.5 per cent in 2024.

Vancouver police officers have voted 96.9 per cent to accept a tentative agreement reached with the police board and city that comes with pay raises of 4.5 per cent retroactive this year and another 4.5 per cent in 2024.

Ralph Kaisers, president of the Vancouver Police Union, confirmed the result in an email Monday but wasn’t immediately available to discuss results of the vote, which occurred between Nov. 26 and Dec. 7.

Kaisers said in an interview two weeks ago that ratification would make Vancouver officers the highest paid in Canada.

A constable with five years on the job can expect to earn $116,000 in the first year of the new contract and see that salary increase to almost $122,000 in 2024.

“We’re going to be number one here pretty quick,” Kaisers said at the time. “It’s huge for recruiting…and it’s also important for retaining people.”

Improved maternity benefits and a better psychological services plan are also part of the contract. Kaisers said more than 20 young female officers were considering leaving the department to seek work elsewhere because of the department’s existing maternity benefits.

“It’s now top-up for the entire year; it used to be 17 weeks only, and then it was unemployment insurance after that,” he said.

“At 17, it was kind of the low end of the standard across the country. So point being is if we're going to be competitive, and get people to come and or stay, we needed to up our game.”

'Pleasantly surprised'

Kaisers said he was “pleasantly surprised” the union reached a tentative agreement sooner than later, noting previous negotiations have gone to an arbitrator.

Had the union not been able to reach an agreement with the police board and city, an arbitrator wouldn’t have dealt with the contract until next year.

The successful ratification vote comes as Vancouver city council is set to meet Tuesday and decide what the property tax increase will be for 2024.

The total draft budget for the city in 2024 is $2.15 billion.

The chunk of operating money for the VPD has hovered around 20 per cent of the budget. This year, the VPD has requested a $415.9 operating budget, which is roughly $6 million more than the city’s finance team is comfortable with.

How the new wage increases for VPD will be incorporated into the overall budget will be determined at Tuesday’s meeting, which begins at 9:30 a.m. at city hall.

So far, staff have estimated a property tax hike of 7.6 per cent will be necessary to balance the budget in 2024.

This year’s hike was 10.7 per cent, with part of that increase attributed to the ABC Vancouver-majority council's promise to begin the hiring of 100 officers and up to 58 mental health workers.

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