Toronto police facing staffing crisis: Union

Police chief dismisses prediction as negotiating scare tactic

Nearly 1,300 Toronto police officers will be eligible to retire in the next five years and another 800 could retire immediately, which could lead to a staffing crisis, warns the Toronto Police Association.

However, Toronto Chief Bill Blair, who himself is eligible for retirement, said the union's dire predictions are only a scare tactic the union is using as part of contract negotiations.

Being eligible to retire doesn't mean the officers will leave the force, said Blair.

This year, only about 200 of the 800 eligible officers have announced they will be retiring, he said.

Officers stay an average of two to three years after they become eligible to retire, in part because officers with at least 23 years of service also get a nine per cent bonus on top of any annual salary increases.

However, that bonus isn't enough to keep officers on the job anymore and a staffing crisis is looming, said Dave Wilson, president of the Toronto Police Association.

If conditions and pay don't improve for rank and file officers, more will head out the door, he said.

The Toronto Police Services Board and the Toronto Police Association failed to reach a settlement during contract negotiations and are heading to binding arbitration next month.

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