Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act would fix broken Bill 175, restore fairness and accountability to police oversight
Sault Ste. Marie – Ontario police officers and the families in Sault Ste. Marie 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. Yesterday, Ontario’s Government for the People will introduce new legislation, the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act, 2019. If passed, this legislation will finally fix the previous government’s Bill 175, which treated police with suspicion while making it increasingly difficult for them to do their jobs.
“Every day our police in Sault Ste. Marie come to work with a simple goal: to keep our families safe,” said Ross Romano, MPP for Sault Ste. Marie. “While we don’t always hear their success celebrated on the news, we take great comfort knowing the police are responding to emergencies and preventing crime. Some times this work entails risk, and it certainly involves difficult decisions. But we rely on the police to keep us safe. Now they can rely on their government to have their back.”
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 investigations 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 that 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.
“Not every example of police courage and service is as high profile as the response to the North York van attack or the Danforth shooting. What those officers have in common with the everyday heroes who serve and protect us is that they deserve our gratitude and respect – not our suspicion and scorn,” said Jones. “That’s why 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.”
WHAT THE POLICING COMMUNITY IS SAYING
“The work OPPA members do every day keeps the people of our province safe. Unfortunately, challenges in the current legislation make it more difficult for the police to do their jobs. The changes proposed by the government today intend to empower police across Ontario to ensure community safety. We look forward to reviewing details of the Bill and participating in the legislative process.” – Rob Jamieson, President and CEO, Ontario Provincial Police Association
“Over the past three years, the Police Association of Ontario (PAO) has been focused on advocating for the thoughtful modernization of the Police Services Act with both the former and current provincial governments. The PAO has maintained that Ontario’s front-line sworn and civilian police personnel require the appropriate tools and adequate funding to keep our communities safe, and we have remained clear that we support effective oversight, accountability, and transparency to build the public’s trust in our profession. Ontario’s front-line police personnel welcome this announcement by the Ontario Government and are hopeful that this new Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act will serve to restore fairness and respect for professional policing, make oversight more effective, and improve governance, training, and transparency. The PAO is committed to working with the provincial government to ensure Ontario continues to be a safe place to live, work, and visit.” – Bruce Chapman, President, Police Association of Ontario
“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 plans to introduce a new bill entitled the Comprehensive Ontario Police Services Act, 2019 that would create the Community 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.
- The 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 the development of the plan.
- The Missing Persons Act, 2018, and Forensic Laboratories Act, 2018, and the majority of the previous amendments to the Coroners Act would 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.
- On February 13th, Minister Jones recommended Constable Volodymyr Zvezd’Onkin (54 Division) and Constable Hongfei Zhou (54 Division) for the Ontario Medal of Police Bravery for their courage in stopping the Danforth Shooter. The two officers had previously been subject to a 6 month investigation by the SIU.