Building Stronger and Safer Communities

Building Stronger and Safer Communities

Ontario passed the Safer Ontario Act, a comprehensive public safety legislation package that will modernize our approach to community safety. It will improve police oversight, transparency and accountability, enhance civilian governance, respond to the needs and realities of Ontario’s diverse communities and mandates local community safety and well-being planning.

The legislative package repeals and replaces Ontario’s Police Services Act from 1990, amends the Coroners Act and creates the Missing Persons Act and the Forensic Laboratories Act.

Key areas of changes include:

Police Services
Strengthening relationships between the police and the communities they serve, while modernizing Ontario’s policing framework.
Area Changes Impact
Proactive and collaborative approach to community safety and well-being planning
  • Mandating municipalities to work with police services and local service providers in health care, social services and education to develop community safety and well-being plans that proactively address locally identified community risks
  • Mandating municipal police service boards to participate in the planning led by municipalities, and to consider the community safety and well-being plan when developing their strategic plans 
  • Ensures those in need will receive the right response, at the right time, and by the right service provider
  • Improves interactions between police and vulnerable Ontarians by enhancing frontline responses
  • Promotes collaborative partnerships between municipalities, police and other sectors
Enhancing police accountability to the public
  • Creating a new Inspector General with a mandate to oversee and monitor police services and police service boards
  • Updating the police disciplinary process, including setting new rules for suspension without pay for police officers in certain circumstances  
  • Requiring all board members to complete training with respect to human rights and systemic racism, including respect for the rights and cultures of Ontario’s First Nation, Inuit and Métis peoples  
  • Strengthening reporting requirements for boards and requiring them to publish policies and directions
  • Increasing the minimum and maximum board size based on local needs
  • Expanding the list of circumstances prohibiting individuals from becoming board members to help ensure effective civilian governance 
  • Ensures there is continued public trust in Ontario’s police services and the integrity of civilian governance
  • Ensures police services and their boards are more representative of, and accountable to, the communities they serve
Outlining police responsibilities and community safety service delivery
  • Clarifying in legislation the core duties of a police officer
  • Modernizing the special constable program so that the duties of special constables are professionalized and clearly differentiated from that of police officers
  • In addition to these new legislative changes, Ontario will create a Public Safety Institute to inform the delivery of policing services, support evidence-based decision making and ensure delivery of expert training to increase public confidence in policing.
  • Ensures Ontario’s highly trained police officers focus on community safety issues where their training and abilities are most needed
  • Ensures consistent education, training and standards for all police services and special constables across the province
Supporting the sustainability of First Nation policing
  • Offering First Nation communities the option to come under the provincial policing framework
    • First Nation police service boards will be required to meet the same provincial standards as those governing other police services in the province
  • First Nations can establish their own police service boards under the act, or choose to continue with their current policing framework
  • Requiring engagement with First Nation communities in the development of the police service board’s strategic plan, and with First Nation leadership regarding cultural traditions when developing board policies
  • Strengthens relationships with First Nation communities
  • Helps to ensure First Nations receive culturally responsive, sustainable, accountable, and equitable policing that has the flexibility to address specific community needs
Missing Persons
Allowing police to respond more quickly and effectively to missing persons investigations.
Area Changes Impact
More effective response
  • Allowing police, in certain circumstances, to apply for judicial orders to access records that can assist in locating a missing person, or to authorize entry into a premises to search for a missing person if it assists in ensuring the safety of the person
  • Ensures police have the right tools to respond effectively to missing persons  occurrences
  • Balances public safety and privacy by requiring that the personal information  of a missing person, including their location, not be disclosed without seeking the consent of that person
Forensic Laboratories
Enhancing the oversight of forensic laboratories in Ontario to improve accountability and transparency of forensic testing through a multi-faceted oversight framework.
Area Changes Impact
Greater oversight and accountability
  • Establishing mandatory accreditation for forensic labs operating in Ontario
  • Ensures a system of quality control for forensic laboratories across the province, including proficiency testing, annual audits that meet internationally recognized standards, performance reports, surveillance visits, management reviews and a code of conduct
Building knowledge and leveraging expertise 
  • Establishing an independent Forensic Advisory Committee to build knowledge and leverage the expertise of key forensic science, justice sector, social services and child protection professionals and Indigenous partners
  • Will provide ongoing advice on the provincial forensic oversight framework, which will ensure that the standards and oversight requirements are based on the latest research and best practices
Death Inquests
Improving Ontario’s inquest system by making inquests more accessible, meaningful and flexible in Ontario.
Area Changes Impact
Enhancing public safety
  • Making inquests mandatory when the use of force by a police officer, special constable, First Nations constable or auxiliary member of a police force is the cause of a death.
  • Allowing the Chief Coroner to hire new coroners directly through a standard recruitment process
  • Expanding eligibility to include lawyers as well as current and retired judges, instead of just medical doctors, to preside over inquests for procedurally and legally complex cases
  • Enhances public safety and helps to prevent similar deaths in the future

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