Legislation will clear the path for more people to consider a career in policing and strengthen animal welfare enforcement across the province
On April 25, 2023, the Ontario government introduced the Strengthening Safety and Modernizing Justice Act, 2023, which would, if passed, clear the path for more people to consider a career in policing, strengthen protections for animals and increase access to the courts by reducing backlogs.
Proposed amendments to the Community Safety and Policing Act, 2019 (CSPA) include:
- Police recognition and education: such as expanding King’s Commissions to include municipal and First Nations police officers; and eliminate the postsecondary education requirement in the CSPA to become a police officer to address the recruiting shortage of police officers in Ontario.
- Improved budget arbitration: such as clarifying responsibility for costs for municipal police service board budget disputes.
- Enhanced oversight and governance: such as strengthening governance of the future Ontario Police Arbitration and Adjudication Commission by creating the possibility for the appointment of one or more vice chairs. This change is intended to improve governance of the agency and to support the integrity of its arbitration and adjudication related functions.
Once in force, the CSPA will update the police discipline process in Ontario. This includes increasing the availability of suspension without pay including where charges have been laid for serious offences as defined in regulation.
There are several other pieces of legislation that would be amended if passed:
- A strengthened animal welfare enforcement framework: the Provincial Animal Welfare Services (PAWS) Act, 2019 – amendments would improve animal welfare through enhanced enforcement capabilities as well as streamline processes related to the Animal Care Review Board.
- Improved efficiency in fire operations and oversight: the Fire Protection and Prevention Act, 1997 – amendments would close gaps in cost recovery provisions and support effective decision making at the Fire Safety Commission.
- Enabling future health and forensic testing: the Coroners Act – amendments would allow regulations on the collection of tissue samples during a coroner’s investigation for reasons that go beyond the investigation, including for current and future advances in health and forensic sciences, such as genetic testing.
- Supporting education of judges and justices of the peace: the Courts of Justice Act and the Justices of the Peace Act – amendments would support judicial education related to gender-based violence for provincially appointed judges and justices of the peace.
- Reducing backlog in the courts: the Courts of Justice Act – amendments would free up judicial time and resources in the Superior Court of Justice by preventing plaintiffs from starting low-value claims at the Superior Court of Justice if the claims are in the Small Claims Court’s jurisdiction, unless the court orders otherwise.
- Improving administration in municipal courts: the Provincial Offences Act – amendments would and clarify that it is court staff and not judicial officers who file judicial review application materials with the courts.