The effects of racial profiling identified in this report raise significant human rights issues to which society must respond. We cannot afford to allow racial profiling to be tolerated and practiced in Ontario. The cost is simply too great. It is imperative that swift and effective action be taken.
To this end, the Commission is proposing some measures for action to address racial profiling. This is not intended to be an exhaustive list of best practices to combat racial profiling, as that has not been the focus of the Commission’s work to date. Rather, the focus of the Commission’s recommendations remain consistent with the purpose of the inquiry: to raise public awareness about racial profiling, to mobilize public action to put an end to it and to bridge the divide between those who deny the existence of racial profiling on the one hand, and the communities who have long held that they are targets of racial profiling on the other.
The discussion that follows is aimed at all organizations or institutions that may have a problem with racial profiling. This includes, but is not necessarily limited to:
- police services across the province (including the OPP and RCMP);
- all levels of the criminal justice system including crown counsel, justices of the peace, judges, prison guards and officials and those involved in parole and probation;
- all levels of the education system, particularly those involved in any way with the Safe Schools Act and zero tolerance polices such as school board officials, school administrators, principals, teachers, guidance counsellors, Ministry of Education officials;
- the Canada Customs and Revenue Agency;
- private security companies;
- malls, stores, restaurants, bars, theatres, casinos;
- taxi companies; and
- airport and airline security.
Government ministries responsible for some of the above institutions, such as the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services, the Ministry of the Attorney General, and the Ministry of Education, also have a role to play in implementing the Commission’s recommendations for action.
As indicated earlier, many studies have been undertaken on issues of police/minority relations and on racism in the criminal justice system (see Appendix A). Many of these reports put forward excellent recommendations covering race relations training, recruitment and retention of diverse police forces, measures for community based policing, effective police complaint mechanisms, the use of force and many other areas. The number of studies that have been conducted have led racialized communities to tell the Commission that they feel that they have been “studied to death” and that what is now needed is action. However, few of the recommendations from these reports have been implemented or, if implemented, monitored to ensure their effectiveness.
Therefore, the Commission recommends that one of the first priorities is to conduct a review of the recommendations set out in earlier studies, set a timetable for implementation and establish a process for monitoring implementation and effectiveness. It is the Commission’s view that each body to which these reports apply should conduct its own review and set its own timetable for implementation of the recommendations relevant to it. However, it is also the Commission’s opinion that a central government agency should be responsible for overseeing this process and reporting on the implementation of the recommendations. In addition, this body should have a mandate to ensure that government policy development respects and promotes racial equity and diversity, should engage in public education activities and should facilitate relationships between those with concerns about racial profiling and public and private sector organizations that serve the public.
1. The government should establish a Racial Diversity Secretariat with a mandate to:
- report annually on issues of racism in Ontario;
- review and report on the implementation of recommendations in previous reports on racial profiling;
- review and report on the implementation of recommendations in previous reports specific to Aboriginal peoples, in particular the 1996 Report of the Royal Commission on Aboriginal Peoples;
- influence and support government policy development activities to ensure that racial diversity and equity are respected and promoted in all government initiatives;
- facilitate dialogue between those with concerns about racial profiling and public and private sector service providers; and
- engage in public awareness and education activities concerning racial diversity.
2. All organizations and institutions entrusted with responsibility for public safety, security and protection should take steps to monitor for and prevent the social phenomenon of racial profiling, and develop or modify their policies, practices, training and public relations activities in this regard.
3. Organizations or institutions that have, or are alleged to have, a problem with racial profiling should review recommendations set out in earlier studies, should report on those that have been implemented and establish a timetable for executing those recommendations that remain outstanding.
4. With respect to Aboriginal persons, organizations or institutions involved in the delivery of services to the Aboriginal community should review their practices to ensure that they are adapted to the unique needs of Aboriginal persons and that their staff is properly trained in issues concerning the Aboriginal community.
As discussed throughout this Report, one of the main barriers to addressing racial profiling is an unwillingness to admit that it is occurring or even that the perception that it is a problem is reason enough to be concerned and take action. It is the Commission’s view that the evidence of the existence of racial profiling is incontrovertible; that this approach of denial does not work and only exacerbates tensions in our society. It is not conducive to either tackling racial profiling or to good community relations. Therefore, the Commission recommends that persons in positions of leadership acknowledge the problem of racial profiling and send a strong message that it is not tolerated.
5. Organizations or institutions that have, or are alleged to have a problem with racial profiling, should accept and acknowledge the existence of racial profiling as well as the need to address the concerns of the communities they serve.
6. Persons in positions of leadership in Ontario, including government officials, should accept and acknowledge the existence of profiling and demonstrate a willingness to undertake action to combat it.
7. All organizations serving the Ontario public should adopt a zero tolerance policy regarding racial profiling and should communicate it clearly to all staff.
8. Economic analysts, business, private and public sector leaders should consider the effect of racial profiling when analyzing economic costs and productivity issues.
What is also clear from the Commission’s inquiry is that many persons who are affected by profiling are eager to engage in a constructive process to work with key organizations and leaders to identify their concerns and strategies for addressing profiling. In a few areas where this is already happening, there have been some positive gains made in terms of both building relationships and concrete measures to begin to tackle local issues of profiling. Therefore, the Commission would emphasize the importance of this type of dialogue between institutions and communities.
9. Organizations or institutions that have, or are alleged to have a problem with racial profiling should meet with concerned communities on an ongoing basis to discuss concerns and work with these communities to facilitate solutions.
A recurrent theme in the racial profiling inquiry and the Commission’s consultation on disability and education regarding zero tolerance polices and the Safe Schools Act emphasized the need to monitor whether there is a disproportionate impact on certain groups. In other words, where there is a concern expressed that policies or practices are having a particular effect on certain groups, organizations should take steps to assess whether this is in fact the case. This will normally involve the collection of data and production of statistics.
It is to be emphasized that the collection of data identifying individuals by Code grounds must be done with great care. Such data must only be used for the purposes of furthering the objects of the Code, such as to monitor and evaluate discrimination, identify and remove systemic barriers, ameliorate disadvantage and promote substantive equality. It should never be used to further marginalize or stigmatize a group. And, where the public interest is involved, organizations collecting the data should consult with affected communities and the Commission regarding the method of collection and the use of the data.
10. Where anecdotal evidence of racial profiling exists, the organization involved should collect data for the purpose of monitoring its occurrence and to identify measures to combat it. Such organizations should consult with affected communities and the Ontario Human Rights Commission to establish guidelines on how the data will be collected and its use. Such data should not be used in a manner to undermine the purposes of the Ontario Human Rights Code.
The participants in the inquiry were clear in expressing their view that the current process in place to receive complaints against institutions, particularly the police, does not have their confidence. The overwhelming feeling was that the process is not accessible, lacks independence and is not effective in resolving concerns. A complaint process that has the trust of communities is critical.
11. The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services should undertake a public consultation to determine the best way to ensure that the police complaints mechanism is, and is seen as, independent and effective. Necessary changes to the current system should be made accordingly.
The need for training initiatives on racism and racial profiling was repeatedly mentioned by participants in the inquiry. While some organizations already provide such training, many felt that it needs to be strengthened. And, in other cases the perception is that no such training is provided at all. For example, many people noted that private security guards have a great deal of power but many receive no training at all on racism, race relations or racial profiling.
Another recurrent theme that came through in the inquiry is the need to ensure diversity in key societal institutions. This is achieved through recruitment, promotion and retention of racialized persons.
14. Organizations or institutions that have, or are alleged to have a problem with racial profiling should undertake measures to improve recruitment, retention and promotion of employees who are members of racialized groups.
A number of other suggestions and best practices to tackle profiling have been identified to the Commission. While many of these are covered in more detail in the many reports and studies that already exist and are therefore addressed by recommendation 1 and 2, they are also worth repeating on their own:
15. Police services across the province should install cameras in police cruisers to allow for monitoring the interaction between the police and public.
16. Police officers and private security guards should wear name badges that are clearly displayed.
17. Organizations or institutions that have, or are alleged to have a problem with racial profiling should provide new staff with sufficient support to ensure that they learn appropriate practices and not resort to racial profiling due to the stresses of the job.
18. In conjunction with local communities, police services should develop educational materials, particularly aimed at youth, explaining citizens’ rights.
19. Organizations or institutions that have, or are alleged to have a problem with racial profiling should study the best practices of other organizations that are dealing with racial profiling, both in Canada and abroad, with a view to implementing them.
The Commission will persist in its efforts to combat racial profiling and racial discrimination in Ontario. It will use its mandate to hold anyone engaging in racial profiling accountable in accordance with the Ontario Human Rights Code. And, the Commission will continue with the work it has begun on its larger project on race, which includes as its goal the development of a Commission policy statement on racial discrimination. The Commission further commits to training its own staff on issues around racial profiling and race and will also work with community groups and other organizations to continue to raise awareness in society about the negative effects of racial profiling.
The Commission is optimistic that through sincere commitment and sustained efforts, racial profiling can be stopped. However, it will take a concerted effort from a number of public and private sector organizations and even individuals to stop racial profiling. We all have a role to play in ending racial profiling. The time has come to act, the human cost of racial profiling is too great – our society is paying the price.