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OHRC’s new policy will support law enforcement to eliminate racial profiling

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September 20, 2019

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VAUGHAN—Today, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released its new Policy on eliminating racial profiling in law enforcement at the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) CEOs Day. This policy, the first of its kind in Canada, offers practical guidance to help law enforcement identify and end racial profiling. The OACP is committed to the principles outlined in the policy, and more than 20 community and advocacy groups have added their support or endorsement.

The OHRC’s 2017 consultation report, Under Suspicion, found that racial profiling is harmful, and has a profound negative impact on the everyday lives of Indigenous peoples, and Black and racialized communities. The OHRC’s policy builds on this work by explaining the difference between racial profiling – which is illegal under Ontario’s Human Rights Code – and legitimate criminal profiling. It also offers guidance on emerging concepts such as racial under-policing and the use of predictive policing and other artificial intelligence tools.

The policy outlines seven key principles for eliminating racial profiling and includes recommendations to law enforcement agencies, private security organizations, oversight bodies and government. In addition to endorsing these principles, the OACP and OHRC will collaborate to provide practical guidance to police services across the province. Our shared goal is to create safer communities where everyone is treated with dignity and respect.

“Racial profiling is illegal, ineffective and inefficient – it diminishes trust in public institutions and does not make our communities safer,” said OHRC Chief Commissioner Renu Mandhane. “Police have a difficult and complex job. That’s why it is essential that the OHRC and OACP work together to provide practical guidance to front-line officers who are responsible for putting our Policy on eliminating racial profiling in law enforcement into practice.”

“Ontario police services depend on the public’s trust and confidence to effectively serve their communities. It is important that all law enforcement personnel deliver policing services in a fair and respectful manner,” said Chief Paul Pedersen, OACP President. “The OACP is committed to the seven key principles outlined in the OHRC’s Policy as the basis for preventing and addressing racial profiling in law enforcement. The recommendations in the Policy are far-reaching. We look forward to working with the OHRC to address issues related to the recommendations and providing guidance to our organizations.”

“Police Boards are responsible to ensure their police services are both effective and fair; and the principles articulated in the OHRC’s new Policy on eliminating racial profiling in law enforcement will help everyone understand how best to achieve that,” said OAPSB Chair Phil Huck. We will be encouraging all member police boards to create and enforce local policies that embrace the OHRC’s tenets and recommendations regarding racial profiling,” added OAPSB Executive Director Fred Kaustinen.

The OHRC calls on police and other law enforcement organizations to create public plans, with clear timelines, to implement the recommendations in the policy.

Community comments:

Ontario Federation of Indigenous Friendship Centres

Urban Indigenous communities across Ontario routinely experience systemic discrimination, racial profiling, over-policing and under-policing. Our experience is shaped by colonialism, which continues to harm the health and well-being of Indigenous communities. Law enforcement agencies have an obligation to address and prevent racial profiling and the OHRC’s Policy on eliminating racial profiling in law enforcement is an important resource for creating and sustaining organizational change, which will have a positive impact on our communities.

– Sylvia Maracle, Executive Director

Human Rights Legal Support Centre:

This new OHRC Policy is an important resource – for law enforcement authorities, advocates, affected individuals and communities. We know that the Policy will help our clients identify and rectify individual and systemic racial profiling in law enforcement. The Human Rights Legal Support Centre appreciates the recommendations made for policing organizations and the government. The seven key principles must form the basis for positive change and respect for human rights in law enforcement.

– Sharmaine Hall, Executive Director


Media contacts:

Yves Massicotte
Communications & Issues Management
Ontario Human Rights Commission/Commission ontarienne des droits de la personne

Event day: Rosemary Parker, Manager, Communications & Issues Management
Ontario Human Rights Commission
Cell: 647-202-7460

Joe L. Couto
Director of Government Relations and Communications
The Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police

“The Ontario Human Rights Commission promotes and enforces human rights to create a culture of human rights accountability.”