New Era For Indigenous Community Safety in Ontario

On April 1, 2024, Ontario’s new policing legislation, the Community Safety and Policing Act, 2019, S.O. 2019, c. 1, Sched. 1 (“CSPA”) came into force. The result of extensive negotiations and dialogue with Indigenous communities, the CSPA represents the first major overhaul of policing laws in Ontario since the 1990s, resulting in over one hundred amendments.

Significantly, the CSPA contains several updates guaranteeing safety to all communities, including the many Indigenous communities that were overlooked in previous iterations of Ontario’s policing legislation.

Key features of the CSPA include:

  • An updated preamble that acknowledges the need “to be responsive to the unique histories and cultures of First Nation, Inuit and Métis communities”, alongside a recognition that the “safety and security of everyone” includes the safety of everyone on First Nation reserves. (s. 1)
  • A new “legislative opt-in” mechanism which makes it possible for First Nations to opt into legally mandated policing standards, allowing communities to benefit from the same standards already applied in non-Indigenous communities, but through a culturally responsive lens. (s. 32)
  • New cultural obligations that would require all Police Boards (Indigenous and non-Indigenous alike) to consult with Indigenous communities when developing policies (s. 38) and strategic plans (s. 39).
  • An option for First Nation police boards to challenge the funding received from the province of Ontario, by applying to an independent arbitrator who must consider the added costs associated with culturally responsive policing. (s. 51).

The CSPA can be found online here.

The CSPA opt-in provision under section 32 can be found here.

For more on our work supporting Indigenous community safety, click here.

Related Posts