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May 31, 2021

Cops -- overpaid or underpaid?

If you think cops are overpaid, don’t type “Canada,” “police” or “overtime” into your search engine’s news database today.

Istockphoto_14700004-police-badge Many headlines Tuesday detail just what certain police and security officers were paid for their work during last year’s G8/G20 summits, the much-ballyhooed political meetings that forked over an estimated total defence budget of near $1 billion.

Among that figure are some startling numbers, and certainly fuel to the fire of anyone residing in the “police are paid too much” spectrum. But, then, what is a cop really worth, anyway?

You’d be hard-pressed to find a public servant more crucial to society’s proper function than a police officer. For every “cops are lazy and dishonest” critic out there, there are 99 “we couldn’t appreciate what police do more” supporters of law enforcement – an opinion shared vehemently by the author of this space.

Yet how are we to appropriately reflect a cop’s value in their monetary compensation?

The pay numbers out of the G20 are certainly uncommon, and we wouldn't think reflect how police are regularly paid nationwide.

Still, what else can we say about them? Look at more details here, but one anecdote from the Summit compensation reports released by the RCMP acts as a stunning model of what’s been called by former Toronto mayor John Sewell as “irresponsible in the extreme”: according to the CBC, one officer from the tiny Ontario township of Stirling-Rawdon was paid a total of $14,142.26, including OT, for 10 days of work during the summits.

Of course, and we’re brought back to this, such numbers aren’t typical. But the latest pay proposal for the Toronto police, for instance, shows that cops are handsomely compensated in any case. According to the latest suggested agreement, Toronto police would start at a salary of more than $72,000, rising to over $90,000 after five years on the job. This would make them the highest-earning cops in Canada.

Historically, this isn’t much of a jump – back in 1969, in a bit of ancient history, Montreal cops held out for salaries that would exceed $9,000, or about $55,000 by today’s standards – so police have always been paid well. But then, they are public workers at the heart of it all, and no matter how heroic they may be day in and day out, many Canadians simply can’t get past green-lighting taxpayer-funded salaries that exceed a certain amount.

For how much they do, what do you think cops are worth? Are they underpaid or overpaid? Or neither?

By Jason Buckland, MSN Money

*Follow Jason on Twitter here.



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Gordon PowersGordon Powers

A long-time fund company executive, Gordon Powers now heads up the Affinity Group, a financial services consulting firm. Gordon was a personal finance columnist for the Globe & Mail for many years, has taught retirement planning...

Jason BucklandJason Buckland

The modern-day MC Hammer of money, Jason can often be seen spending cash that isn’t his with the efficiency of a Wilt Chamberlain first date. After cutting his teeth as a reporter for the Toronto Sun, he joined the MSN Money team with...