TORONTO – Today the OHRC released its Framework for change to address systemic racism in policing, calling on Ontario to establish a legislative and regulatory framework to directly address systemic racial discrimination in policing across the province.
In August 2020, during the launch of A Disparate Impact, the second interim report on the inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination of Black persons by the Toronto Police Service, the OHRC issued a call to action to the province to address systemic racism in policing. This Framework expands on that call by focusing on the province’s role in championing transformative progress, and urges prompt and concrete action for changes to the public institutions and systems that are accountable for structures that perpetuate racial disparities in policing.
The OHRC’s Framework includes 10 essential steps for eliminating discriminatory practices from policing across the province:
1. Implementing a Crown pre-charge screening process
2. Implementing specific mechanisms towards ending racial profiling, such as mandating a broader range of race-based data collection and implementing early intervention systems
3. Amending the Ontario Use of Force Model
4. Accelerating efforts to civilianize police services
5. Promoting non-police responses to calls related to mental health, substance use or homelessness
6. Reviewing School Resource Officer programs
7. Creating greater transparency in police discipline
8. Making sure court or tribunal findings of discrimination against police officers are appropriately investigated and addressed
9. Requiring independent investigations of police complaints
10. Amending the Special Investigations Unit Act to allow greater disclosure to the public during an SIU investigation.
The steps outlined in the Framework are based on what the OHRC has heard in over 30 years of engagement with Indigenous, Black and other racialized communities about their experiences with policing. This focus on lived experience has been combined with consultation with experts and extensive research on policing, systemic discrimination and racial profiling.
The OHRC has also consulted with and received support from the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police (OACP) in its efforts to work collaboratively to make systemic changes within policing. The OACP includes Chiefs of Police and senior police leaders from 53 different police services across the province.
“Systemic inequity in policing has pervasive implications throughout Ontario,” said OHRC Chief Commissioner Ena Chadha. “To dismantle systemic racism, we must re-envision the systems that allow it to persist, and we need people in government with the vision, commitment to equity and tenacity to take on the difficult work of changing the system. Now is the time for human rights, police and government leaders to come together to cooperatively address systemic, anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism in policing and to make sure that police services respect the human rights, safety and dignity of everyone they serve.”
- OHRC Memorandum of Understanding with Peel Regional Police and Peel Police Services Board
- OHRC Policy on eliminating racial profiling in law enforcement
- Interim reports in the OHRC’s inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination of Black persons by the Toronto Police Service: A Collective Impact (2018), A Disparate Impact (2020)
- Under suspicion: Research and consultation report on racial profiling in Ontario
- Paying the Price: The human cost of racial profiling.
Issues and Media Relations Officer
Ontario Human Rights Commission