OTTAWA - An internal government memo warns the RCMP's costly contract policing obligations across Canada are draining resources from the force's federal duties in areas such as organized crime and national security.

The Public Safety Canada document says demand for contract officers in the provinces and territories outstrips the RCMP's capacity to recruit and train them, causing shortages that have led to worries about officers' health and wellness.

In turn, there is "growing dissatisfaction" in contract jurisdictions about costs and officer vacancies, and the resulting effect on community safety.

The memo says the coming unionization of rank-and-file Mounties will only intensify these pressures.

The heavily censored memo, newly released under the Access to Information Act, was included in a collection of briefing materials prepared for the incoming cabinet following the fall election.

Over 60 per cent of the RCMP's multibillion-dollar budget and over 70 per cent of the force's officers are assigned to contract policing in eight provinces, the three territories and 153 municipalities.