BROCKVILLE – Ontario police officers and the families who depend on them will finally be able to count on a fair and transparent police oversight process that will always put public safety first, said Leeds-Grenville-Thousand Islands and Rideau Lakes MPP Steve Clark.
Today, Ontario’s Government for the People introduced new legislation, the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act, 2019. If passed, this legislation will fix the previous government’s Bill 175, which treated police with suspicion while making it increasingly difficult for them to do their jobs, said Clark.
“The brave men and women who serve as police officers go to work every day with one goal: to keep families in our riding safe. All of us take great comfort in knowing the police are there when we need them, responding to emergencies, preventing crime and taking part in activities and programs that connect them to our communities,” said Clark. “At times, their work involves risk and requires officers to make difficult decisions. But we rely on the police to keep us safe. Now they can rely on their government to have their back.”
If passed, the Act would streamline the SIU investigation process, which would have persisted under the previous Bill 175 and forced many police officers to labour under months- or years-long investigation – even in cases where they had no contact with an individual.
“Bill 175 was the most anti-police piece of legislation in Canadian history,” said Sylvia Jones, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. “It was a disaster. It actively undermined policing efforts. And it undermined public confidence and trust in the work police do.”
If passed, the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act will enhance police oversight in Ontario by creating one window for public complaints, reducing delays in the investigation process, and ensuring more accountability.
“When we were elected, one of our first orders of business was to pause implementation of Bill 175 so we could fix it in a way that continues to ensure oversight – but does so in a way that is balanced, respectful and fair,” said Attorney General Caroline Mulroney. “Our legislation, if passed, will focus investigative resources where they are needed, on criminal activity, within a police oversight system that will ultimately help build safer communities on a shared foundation of restored trust and accountability.”
By treating police fairly, the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act will ensure the police, the government, and the people of Ontario remain partners in creating a more secure province.
“Our Government For the People is providing police with the tools, resources and support they need to keep our communities safe, stand up for victims and hold offenders accountable for their crimes,” said Jones.
WHAT THE POLICING COMMUNITY IS SAYING
“The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police has long advocated for significant changes to the Police Services Act in order to assist us in the efficient and effective management of police services that enhance public and officer safety. We believe there are items in this new legislation that are welcome and look forward to continuing to work with the government and stakeholders, knowing that community safety is our absolute priority.”
– Kimberley Greenwood, President, Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police and Chief, Barrie Police Service
“By mandating board training on roles, responsibilities and critical skills, the Ontario Government’s new Community Safety and Policing Act will significantly enhance every police board’s ability to make the best possible decisions about local policing policies, strategic plans and budgets. This will directly lead to ever-improving policing and community safety. Everyone will benefit.”
– Phil Huck, Chair, and Fred Kaustinen, Executive Director, Ontario Association of Police Services Boards
- The government has introduced a new bill entitled the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act, 2019 that would create theCommunity Safety and Policing Act, 2019 and the Special Investigations Unit Act, 2019 to repeal and replace the Police Services Act, 2018 and the Ontario Special Investigations Unit Act, 2018. The bill would also repeal the Policing Oversight Act, 2018 and the Ontario Policing Discipline Tribunal Act, 2018.
- First Nations policing provisions laid out in the Police Services Act, 2018 would be adopted providing First Nations communities with greater choice in how their policing services are delivered.
- Amendments to the Police Services Act (1990) – the legislation currently in force – that add new community safety and well-being planning provisions and came into force on Jan. 1, 2019 would continue to be in force with a new provision requiring the participation of the local police service in developing the plan.
- The Missing Persons Act, 2018 and Forensic Laboratories Act, 2018 and the majority of the previous amendments to the Coroners Actwould remain as passed in the Safer Ontario Act, 2018.
- The new police oversight legislation would respond to Justice Tulloch’s recommendations in the Report of the Independent Police Oversight Review.