August 29, 2018
Hon. Caroline Mulroney
Attorney General and Minister Responsible for Francophone Affairs
McMurtry-Scott Building, 11th Floor
720 Bay Street
Toronto, ON M7A 2S9
Hon. Michael Tibollo
Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services
George Drew Building, 18th Floor
25 Grosvenor Street
Toronto, Ontario M7A 1Y6
Dear Attorney General Mulroney and Minister Tibollo:
Re: Police reform and oversight - Safer Ontario Act, 2018
I hope this finds you well. We understand the government is conducting a review of the Safer Ontario Act, 2018 and is consulting experts, police services and the public. We are writing today to provide the Ontario Human Rights Commission’s (OHRC) submissions on policing and police oversight to inform the government’s ongoing review. We encourage the government to implement the Safer Ontario Act and strengthen Regulation 58/16 related to “street checks” or “carding.”
Pursuant to s. 29 of the Human Rights Code, the OHRC has a mandate to review legislation and make recommendations to ensure consistency with the intent of the Code. Our Strategic Plan 2017-2022 prioritizes work to end discriminatory practices in the criminal justice system. Accordingly, the OHRC provided numerous submissions and ongoing advice to the previous government on the Safer Ontario Act and to the Honourable Justice Michael Tulloch on police oversight and Regulation 58/16.
In our submissions, the OHRC raised concerns about systemic discrimination in policing and suggested concrete ways to eliminate discriminatory practices. Our recommendations on police reform were endorsed by 22 community and advocacy organizations. We are pleased that many of these recommendations are reflected in the Act.
Overall, the OHRC believes that the vision set out in the Safer Ontario Act recognizes and enshrines the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and Human Rights Code as essential to adequate and effective policing. Timely implementation of the Act would mark a significant step in making our communities safer.
For ease of reference and consideration, please find enclosed our recent submissions, as follows:
- May 1, 2018 Submission to the Independent Street Checks Review
- March 1, 2018 Presentation to the Standing Committee on Justice Policy – Bill 175, Safer Ontario Act
- November 15, 2016 Submission to the Independent Review of Police Oversight Bodies
- April 29, 2016 Submission to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services re: Strategy for a Safer Ontario
- December 11, 2015 Submission to the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services re: Draft Street Checks Regulation
- December 7, 2015 Joint Response by legal groups, community advocates, academics and Ontario Human Rights Commission to Ontario re: Draft Street Checks Regulation
The OHRC is committed to working with the government to address and properly implement these carefully-designed reforms. Please do not hesitate to reach out to me directly to discuss further.
Consistent with our mandate to report on the state of human rights in the province, and in the interest of transparency and accountability, this letter may be made public.
Renu Mandhane, B.A., J.D., LL.M.
CC: OHRC Commissioners