Our Reference #: MC-2017-9046
Ms. Farhia Ahmed
Justice For Abdirahman Coalition
Dear Ms. Ahmed:
Our government is committed to keeping our communities safe by reinforcing trust between police services and the communities they serve. Police officers are committed public servants who dedicate their lives to keeping us safe. At the same time, we recognize there is a need to strengthen public trust in the policing oversight systems, particularly for the Indigenous and Black communities.
As you are aware, last year, Justice Michael H. Tulloch was appointed to lead an independent review of Ontario’s three policing oversight bodies: the Special Investigations Unit (SIU), the Office of the Independent Police Review Director (OIPRD) and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission (OCPC).
After extensive consultation with more than 1,500 people from across the province, Justice Tulloch released his Report of the Independent Police Oversight Review (IPOR report), which included 129 recommendations for the government.
Since then, the government has taken immediate action to implement several recommendations that did not require legislative changes, including:
- a commitment to release the SIU Director’s Reports to the public. Current SIU reports are now being released publicly on the government’s website in a format that adheres to Justice Tulloch’s recommendations; and,
- the passage of the Anti-Racism Act on June 1, 2017, which enables the government to mandate the collection of race-based data by police oversight bodies.
When the IPOR report was released, I also committed to introducing legislation that used Justice Tulloch’s recommendations as a blueprint for reforming Ontario’s policing oversight system. I am pleased to inform you that last week, the government introduced a bill that implements 118 of 119 recommendations directed towards the Ministry of the Attorney General – making this the most significant overhaul of policing oversight since these bodies were created.
The bill is based on the four key principles outlined in the IPOR report which include:
- increasing openness by taking an open-by-default approach to sharing information with the public about investigations and keeping them better informed about the investigative process;
- increasing accountability by requiring mandatory cooperation by policing officials in oversight investigations and taking a good look at the tools that policing oversight bodies need to be more effective;
- increasing public confidence by allowing only policing oversight bodies to investigate and make decisions about public complaints regarding conduct of policing officials; and,
- increasing cultural competency by improving training and obtaining better data collection.
To increase the independence, openness, and accountability of the policing oversight bodies, the new legislation would, if passed:
- strengthen the obligation of policing officials to comply with oversight investigations;
- authorize the Attorney General to regulate the proportion or number of investigators who may be former policing officials;
- require the delivery of training to employees at oversight bodies that promotes recognition and respect for the diverse, multiracial and multicultural character of Ontario and the rights and cultures of First Nations, Inuit and Métis Peoples;
- provide authority for the policing oversight bodies to collect and publicly report on demographic data, including race-based data; and,
- expand the Ontario Ombudsman’s jurisdiction to all three oversight bodies.
A comprehensive list of our proposed changes can also be found on the government’s website.
I am confident that these changes, if passed, will make Ontario a leader in policing oversight with a system that is more robust, open and accountable.
I would like to thank you for the valuable and important role that the Justice For Abdirahman Coalition has played in providing us with your feedback and expertise as we have developed this legislation. Your perspectives have helped us consider a full range of views, and I believe the proposed legislation implements recommendations of the IPOR report, brings clarity and fills current gaps in the existing regime.
I look forward to continuing to work with you throughout the legislative process to enhance the openness and transparency of Ontario’s policing oversight system.