Caledonia overtime policing tab tops $11m

By Marissa Nelson
The Hamilton Spectator
Apr 20, 2007

The OPP spent more than $11 million on overtime for the first seven months of the native dispute in Caledonia.

They also spent $816,000 for accommodation for officers and $324,000 in catering bills. That's in addition to $286,000 of meals expensed to the service by officers.

The Hamilton Spectator obtained the information after filing a request under Freedom of Information laws last May.

According to the OPP's own files, up to Oct. 5, 2006, they paid constables $9.4 million in overtime and $2.2 million to sergeants.

The most expensive month was June 2006, when the force spent $2.3 million on overtime.

In late May and early June, there were several major flare-ups. Those included a major protest on the May long weekend and several scuffles involving police, U.S. law officials and a television cameraman.

This is the first time the OPP have released any particulars about their costs.

In February, the OPP said that they'd spent $21.6 million on the dispute. The total cost to the province in February was pegged at $46.26 million.

Getting the breakdown of the OPP's figures was not easy.

In August, the ministry that oversees the OPP said it would take 185 hours -- equal to one person searching for more than a month -- to find the information. That search would cost $5,500 -- not including costs for preparation or photocopying.

The Spectator appealed to the Information and Privacy Commissioner and during mediation, the ministry agreed to hand over some information for free.

Those details arrived yesterday, a day before the anniversary of the OPP's raid of Douglas Creek Estates.

Natives and their supporters will gather on the disputed property before dawn today to mark the date when OPP officers stormed the site, only to be pushed back by natives an hour later.