SUDBURY -- The Greater Sudbury Police Service is looking for a 4.8 per cent increase in its 2021 budget.

Police Chief Paul Pedersen said the pandemic has been more challenging than ever and the budget increase is necessary.

“We’ve seen an over 300 per cent increase in opioid-related calls," Pedersen said. "We’ve seen a 448 per cent increase in mental-health calls. And (we also need) to contribute to a facilities reserve fund that allows us to plan for a facility down the road.”

Pedersen said police were originally looking for an increase of 6.1 per cent, but the city wanted the increase limited to more than 3.9 per cent. That resulted in the police service having to make some changes.

“We looked primarily at volunteer services," he said. "We haven’t been able to deploy volunteers during COVID, we haven’t been able to use our storefronts during COVID. So if we can pause that for a year and save some money on the taxpayers we see that as fair.

“Some of our civilian staff that have retired that were associated with some of the court processes, were going to pause in hiring those positions.”

The chief said all police services brought value to the community, but he understands the current economic climate.

“We recognize that we’re in economic crisis locally, provincially, federally, globally, and we have to do our part, and we are bringing back and cutting back on our services to hit those goals,” said Pedersen.

The budget will be presented to city council on Jan. 19.