Building Stronger and Safer Communities

Building Stronger and Safer Communities

Ontario is introducing the Safer Ontario Act, a comprehensive public safety legislation package that, if passed, would modernize our approach to community safety, and improve police oversight and accountability. It responds to the needs and realities of Ontario’s diverse communities and would mandate local community safety and well-being planning. The goal is to build a province where all residents feel protected and safe in their homes and communities.

The proposed legislation would modernize the Police Services Act, and would introduce a new Forensic Laboratories Act, and Missing Persons Act. It would also make changes to the existing Coroners 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
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 community safety concerns
  • Mandating police service boards to participate in the planning led by municipalities, and to align their strategic plans with the broader community safety and well-being plan
  • 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 front-line responses to those in crisis
  • Promotes collaborative partnerships between municipalities, police, and other sectors
Enhancing police accountability to the public
  • Creating a new Inspector General of Police 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 accused of serious criminal wrongdoing
  • Requiring all board members to complete training, including diversity training, and strengthening reporting requirements for boards
  • Increasing the minimum and maximum board size based on local needs
  • Expanding the list of circumstances prohibiting individuals to become board members 
  • Ensures there is continued public trust in Ontario’s police services and the integrity of civilian governance
  • Ensures police services and their boards more representative of and accountable to the communities they serve
Outlining police responsibilities and community safety service delivery
  • Setting clear parameters that outline police responsibilities and that identify where it may be appropriate to use non-police personnel
  • Modernizing the special constable program so that the duties of special constables are professionalized and clearly differentiated from that of police officers
  • The ministry to create a Public Safety Institute as a centre of excellence to inform the delivery of police services, support evidence-based decision making, and conduct leading edge research
  • 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 for a consistent approach to policing across the province
Supporting the sustainability of First Nations policing
  • Offering two models of police service delivery that enable First Nations to choose whether they want to establish their own police services boards, including the option to come under the same legislative framework as the rest of Ontario
  • Requiring culturally responsive and appropriate engagement with First Nations communities in the development of the police service board’s strategic plan, and engagement with First Nations leadership regarding cultural traditions when developing board policies
  • Ensures First Nations receive culturally responsive, sustainable, accountable, and equitable policing that has the flexibility to address specific community needs on their own terms
  • Strengthens relationships with First Nations communities 
Missing Persons
Allowing police to respond more quickly and effectively to missing persons investigations.
Area Changes Impact
Rapid response
  • Enabling police to apply for judicial orders to access records in certain circumstances, that could assist in locating a missing person or ensure the safety of the person
  • Additional training in the areas of cultural competency and serving vulnerable individuals
  • Balances public safety and privacy by requiring that the location of a missing person would not be disclosed without seeking the consent of that person
  • Ensures police have the right tools to respond effectively and sensitively to missing persons
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
Creating a system of quality management
  • Establishing mandatory accreditation for forensic labs operating in Ontario
  • Building a system of quality management for forensic laboratories that includes proficiency testing, annual audits, performance reports, surveillance visits, management reviews and a code of conduct
  • Ensures forensic laboratories across the province have common operational standards
Greater oversight and accountability
  • Establishing an independent advisory committee in order to build knowledge and leverage the expertise of key forensic science, justice sector, social services and child protection professionals
  • Provides recommendations related to standards and oversight requirements, research and best practices as well as education and training in the field of forensic sciences
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 a police officer, special constable or other officer’s use of force is the direct cause of a death
  • Allowing the Chief Coroner to hire new coroners directly through a standard recruitment process
  • Expanding eligibility to include lawyers and current and retired judges to preside over inquests instead of just medical doctors for procedurally and legally complex cases
  • Enhances public safety and helps to prevent similar deaths in the future

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