Office of Councillor Jeff Leiper, Kitchissippi Ward, Ottawa | (613) 580-2485  |
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Policing legislation to come into effect

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On April 1, Bills 68 and 102 will come into effect. Bill 68 is the big change to the Police Services Act that was passed in 2019 but which hasn't hitherto come into force.

Policing occupies a challenging space in Ontario. Municipal governments in Ontario do not directly control "municipal" police forces. We don't pay officers, don't hire or fire the Chief, and don't establish police policies. Those are all done by bodies called Police Services Boards which have, until now, been made up of seven people - three Members of City Council (one of whom is often the Mayor, who has a spot reserved unless they give that up), one person who is not a councillor appointed by City Council, and three members appointed by the Province. The police budget is proposed by the Police Services Board and accepted or not by Council and the Police Services Board can dispute the level approved by Council at the Provincial level.

Because Council doesn't control policing at the day-to-day or operational level, I'm a little loath to delve too deeply into it in my own day-to-day activities. I absolutely have a good working relationship with police at both the management level and on the ground, but I'm always cognizant that I don't exercise any authority over them in my capacity as a councillor.

All that said, the legislation makes changes to how Council appoints members to the PSB including new diversity considerations and with the option to change the number of people appointed to the Board and establishes a new arbritration mechanism to be used in case of budget disagreements between the Council and the PSB. There is also a modification to the Provincial legsilation that makes it clear that while the PSB can't direct Police operations, it is not prohibited from issuing directions to the Chief that "may affect operations." I imagine there will be a period of discussion and jurisprudence before that modification and its effects are fully understood.

I'm posting below the information we've received today from the City Solicitor with respect to actions that Council is going to have to undertake in order to comply with the bills. Most of what I've read here is consequential to the legislation coming into force and I don't think we'll have a lot of important decisions to make, but I wanted residents to have access to the material as well.

Posted March 1, 2024