The cost of the existing police physical fitness program in Winnipeg
All Police officers hired since the late 1980’s are subject to a physical fitness standard as a condition of employment. The standard which requires completion of drills and activities that simulate on the job activities such as speed, agility, endurance and strength must be completed within a fixed period of time. Officers are tested annually. Because progression through the various classes of Constable and promotion to higher ranks is tied to meeting the fitness standard, the compliance rate is high.
Officers are further encouraged to meet the standard through an incentive program which gives officers who meet or exceed the standard 20 hours of time off annually. Officers hired prior to the introduction of the mandatory program can enter the program on a voluntary basis and if they meet the standard, they too receive 20 hours of time off annually.
If all officers availed themselves of this provision, it would result in the granting of 26,400 hours of time off annually. At an average wage of $35.00 per hour, the dollar cost equates to just under 1 million dollars a year.
Other fitness incentives for police officers offered by the City include gymnasiums in the Public Safety Building as well as in the other four District Stations and the Police Academy. The City pays for the space, heating/cooling and general maintenance of these gymnasiums. Much of the equipment was purchased by the Police Union and the ongoing maintenance and replacement of equipments is covered by a dollar a week levy that is assessed to all users. The facilities located in operational police buildings are open 24 hours a day.
The City also pays the cost of fitness passes to other city owned facilities such as the Sam Southern complex, The Pan Am Pool, the Cindy Klassen Recreation Centre and others for officers who prefer these facilities to a conventional gym. The City also picks up the salary cost for the physical fitness coordinator.
The overall cost to the city is in the range of 1 million dollars.
Based on the recent attempts by the Winnipeg Police Association (the union which represents police officers in Winnipeg) to negotiate paid workout time through the media (a request which was denied), the union is clearly of the view that officers are not as fit as they should be.
Subsequent posts will look at the cost of what the union was asking for and their approach to bargaining.