Today the Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, the Honourable Yasir Naqvi, announced a plan to consult with the public on updating the Police Services Act.
In addition, Ministry officials have advised AMO that they will also hold multiple one-day sessions across the province with municipal representatives, police service boards, health and social service providers, and community organizations. Today’s announcement did not include any of these details but they are expected to commence soon.
AMO strongly believes in the need to advance the agenda of policing reform. Economics alone inform the need:
- Ontarians currently pay the highest policing costs in the country;
- Per capita policing costs in Ontario are $320 per year, well above the national provincial average of $259; and
- For at least a decade, police spending has been growing at three times the rate of inflation.
A number of factors are driving high policing costs for individual municipalities. This includes the implementation of the new OPP billing model, interest arbitration, the labour relations framework and the standards imposed by legislation. While all of these issues are important and have a bearing on cost, the current consultation is centered on updating the Police Services Act
. Similarly, municipal input to the upcoming consultations should be focused on legislative change. More specifically, municipalities and communities should consider the following fundamental questions:
- How do we want to be policed in the future?
- How can we improve the effectiveness and efficiency of this critical public service?
Last year AMO established a Policing Modernization Task Force to help answer these questions. The Task Force interviewed experts, reviewed the best academic research available and had thorough and lengthy discussions on specific issues about the future of policing. The Report has been downloaded over 5,500 times since its release in April 2015. It contains 34 recommendations centered on providing ideas and a vision for the future of how this critical public service can be delivered. These recommendations are divided into four themes: partnership, productivity, performance and personnel. Additional policing material and resources are available on AMO’s website.
In the coming days, AMO will offer some additional members’ briefings on key elements of the report and provide an opportunity for membership discussions to help inform municipal participation at the Ministry’s consultations.
In addition, AMO will be doing the following:
- Reconvening AMO’s Policing Modernization Task Force to consider some specific questions presented by the consultation;
- Continuing to participate at the Ministry’s Future of Policing Advisory Committee;
- Discussions with the government at the AMO-MOU consultation table; and
- Providing further information to support municipal governments on various issues including police governance.
We encourage all councils to consider the AMO report’s recommendations and to discuss municipal policing modernization priorities and legislative reform with the Minister, the Ministry, local MPPs, police service boards, local Chiefs of Police and Detachment Commanders, local police associations and the public.
New legislation has the potential to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of policing in Ontario. This is the first review of the Police Services Act
in over 25 years. Strong and effective municipal participation at the consultation sessions will be an important part of shaping the future.