Letter to Vic Toews
October 25th, 2012 - 5:45pm
Hon. Vic Toews
Minister of Public Safety
306 Justice Building
Ottawa,ON K1A 0A6
October 23, 2012
Re: Adequate Policing Resources for Nishnawbe Aski Police Service
Dear Minister Toews,
It has been over six months since the Tripartite Policing Agreement between the Government of Canada, theProvinceofOntarioand the Nishnawbe Aski Nation expired. The issue of adequate funding and resources for the front line officers of the Nishnawbe Aski Police (NAPs) remains unaddressed. These officers are facing numerous challenges ensuring safe policing across a vast area ofNorthern Ontario. The stress and strain faced by officers in undermanned units and dealing with substandard resources is putting both communities and officers at risk.
On March 31st, 2013, NAPs is facing the loss of 11 officers who were hired under the Police Officer Recruitment Fund (PORF). The force cannot afford to lose any more officers. In fact, there is a need to hire 30 new officers to ensure basic standards of safe policing are met.
The issues facing the resourcing of the NAPs police are not new. I refer you to the recommendations of the Coroner’s Inquest in the fire deaths at the Kashechewan NAPs detachment. It has been three years since those excellent recommendations were brought forward. In the hopes of moving this file forward, I would like to ask you what steps are being considered in terms of these following recommendations from the Kashechewan Inquest:
28. First Nations, Canada and Ontario should work together to ensure that policy standards and service levels in First Nation communities are equivalent to those in non-First Nation communities in Ontario.
29.CanadaandOntarioshould develop a method for establishing equivalence in policing standards between First Nations and non-First Nation communities. The unique characteristics of remoteNANcommunities should be addressed.
30.CanadaandOntarioshould provide NAPs with the funding required to ensure that the communities receive the same level and quality of policing services and infrastructure that non-First Nation communities receive. Funding levels should be sufficient to allow NAPs to comply with adequacy standards set out in the Ontario Police Services Act and the Policing Standards Manual of the MCSCS and the RCMP.
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36.Canada,Ontarioand NAN should retain a mutually agreeable independent consultant to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the costs of appropriate policing in remote First Nation communities inOntario. This evaluation requires the development of a method to cost unique, remote/fly-in police services.
37.CanadaandOntarioshould provide funding for this evaluation under Clause 12 of the Tripartite Agreement.
41.NANshould conduct research and policy review on the funding and availability of suitable housing for NAPs officers. OntarioandCanadashould provide funding for this review.
45. NAN,CanadaandOntarioshould work together to establish a legislative framework for NAPS, pursuant to section 9 of the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service Agreement. As well, other First Nations should be invited to participate in this process. The federal government should take the lead in promoting the negotiation process.
47. NAN should be adequately funded byCanadaandOntarioto be able to meaningfully and actively participate in consultations and negotiations about a legislative framework for NAPs.
48.Nan,CanadaandOntarioshould work together to establish flexible and innovative mechanisms for addressing health and safety issues at NAPs detachments in a timely manner.
50. All officers within NAPs should have the ability to address health and safety issues in a timely fashion.
86. Contextual evidence provided at this inquest has suggested many contributing factors to these deaths. A public inquiry or Royal Commission should be conducted for theNANcommunities that address parity of services, community health and safety, and quality of life.
Given that NAPs has been entrusted with the obligation of protecting public safety across a vast region ofNorthern Ontario, I am sure that you will agree that the officers should be able to conduct their work with adequate resources and adequate consideration for their health and safety. Therefore, I look forward to hearing from you regarding steps that are being taken to address the appalling gap between NAPs and other Federal and Provincial police bodies.
Charlie Angus, MP
cc. Alvin Fiddler, Deputy Grand Chief NAN
Fabian Batise, NAPs Police Board
Stan Louttit, Grand Chief Mushkegowuk Council
Derek Stephen, Chief Kashechewan First Nation