Amid criticism that Montreal is defunding its police service, Mayor Valerie Plante came out Friday in defence of her administration's use of public funds, which she says are exemplary.

"I am sick and tired of those who want to scare people and scare police officers by saying that we want to [defund], that we want to take money away from the SPVM. That is not true," a visibly upset Valerie Plante told reporters Friday morning.

The mayor was reacting to media reports that questioned Plante's use of funds from the province to enhance public security that were allegedly redirected to other municipal services.

She said Friday that money earmarked for police goes to the Montreal police (SPVM) and any suggestion to the contrary is false.

"We do it a very irreproachable way. That is my message. And we will not let anyone attack our integrity on that matter," she said, without taking any questions from the media.


Her brief statement comes after a spate of recent shootings that have put some residents on edge and concerns being raised by the union representing Montreal police officers. The union said that the force doesn’t have enough members to properly police the city and that officers are quitting because they don’t feel supported.

The Fraternite des policiers et policieres de Montreal sent a letter to Plante this week claiming that since the mayor promised last year to hire 250 additional officers, the number of police in the city has dropped by 72.

"These departures are fuelled by your administration's lack of concrete support for police officers, who are resigning in greater numbers than before," union president Yves Francoeur wrote. The union said that it's their fourth letter to the administration and that the response to previous letters has been evasive.

During the news conference Friday, Plante said that, when needed, the city will adapt its budget for police, as it did last year.

Public figures show funding for the Montreal police has been increasing by about $30 million since 2019. Last year, the cost of policing in Montreal rose to more than $745,000,000. In 2019, it was $680,440,200.

"We are working with the SPVM and the city to get more money and resources from the minister from Quebec. They are open, they are great partners. This is how we should be moving forward in terms of wanting to reinforce the feeling of Montrealers, some of whom feel insecure. We hear them and we're acting on it," the mayor said.


Speaking to 98.5 FM radio, Quebec's public security minister Genviève Guilbault said in the past five years the province has tripled the amount of money for the SPVM. She was in the interview if she has any concerns about the Plante administration's management of public security funds.

"No, but we want to have the confirmation that the money we give serves the purpose for which it was given," the minister said, adding that she has "confidence" in the mayor and her administration.

"Before giving more money we have to be certain that the money already given was properly used for the police," Guilbault said.

Mayor Plante vowed that Montrealers will learn more details in an announcement "very soon" about a plan between the province and Montreal to make the city safer.

Meanwhile, the opposition at city hall is calling for the auditor general to open a probe into the city's financing of the SPVM. Ensemble Montreal Leaders Aref Salem questioned why there is a lack of 72 officers with recent financial commitments from the province to combat violent crime in the city.

"What are we doing with this money? There's a lack of transparency with this administration and I feel like this sense of insecurity in Montreal, it's really growing," Salem told reporters Friday.

"Are they definancing the police right now? This is the question and we're going to ask the auditor general to see what's going on, really, and have real numbers because the way it's going now we have the feeling there's no transparency."

With files from The Canadian Press