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Feds to maintain funding for First Nations police for next five years

Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews delivers an announcement during Question Period in the House of Commons on March 4, 2013. The government says it will continue to pay for the First Nations Policing Program for the next five years.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

The Harper government says it will continue to pay for the First Nations Policing Program for the next five years.

The program supports police services in First Nations and Inuit communities across the country at a cost of about $122-million a year.

Public Safety Minister Vic Toews says the program this year covers 163 policing arrangements representing 1,250 trained police officers in about 400 communities serving about 338,000 people.

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He says the government intends to provide stable, multi-year financing for the program, although he gave no cost details.

The program came into force in 1991 and is funded by the federal government, province or territory and the community.

Agreements under the program were set to expire March 31, leaving some native leaders worried that their police forces would fall into limbo.

Some chiefs said they've been trying for years to speak with Toews on the issue, without getting a response.

The minister agreed to meet them last week.

On Thursday, he announced the five-year extension:

"Our government will continue to support First Nations and Inuit policing as part of its ongoing commitment to keeping our streets and communities safe."

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