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Submission of the Ontario Human Rights Commission concerning a proposed training regulation under the Community Safety and Policing Act, 2019

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September 25, 2023

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The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC)

The OHRC is an independent human rights body established under the Ontario Human Rights Code (Code). The OHRC is responsible for promoting and advancing human rights and addressing systemic discrimination in Ontario. As part of that mandate, the OHRC can provide human rights advice on the government’s policies and programs. In carrying out its mandate, the OHRC may take positions that publicly challenge or are critical of government policies and practices.

Addressing discrimination in policing has been an important part of the OHRC’s work for over 20 years. The OHRC has created resources to help police services identify, monitor and reduce discrimination; Paying the Price, the 2003 report on the OHRC inquiry into the effects of racial profiling; Under Suspicion, its 2017 research and consultation report on racial profiling, and its 2019 Policy on eliminating racial profiling in law enforcement.[i] The OHRC has made many submissions to the government and independent reviewers about how to address systemic discrimination in policing[ii] and the OHRC’s Framework for change to address systemic racism in policing identifies 10 essential steps for eliminating discriminatory practices from policing across the province.

The OHRC is currently engaged in an inquiry into anti-Black racism by the Toronto Police Service and has a Memorandum of Understanding to work with the Peel Regional Police and Peel Police Services Board to address systemic racism and discrimination in policing.



Efforts to address systemic discrimination in policing must be supported by effective training.  Section 83 of the CSPA states that no person shall be appointed to be an officer unless they have completed training on human rights and systemic racism. Officer training must also promote respect for the diverse multiracial and multicultural character of Ontario society and the rights of First Nation, Inuit, and Metis Peoples.  In addition, the declaration of principles at section 1 of the CSPA, acknowledges the importance of protecting rights guaranteed by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and the Code, and demonstrating sensitivity to the pluralistic, multiracial, and multicultural character of Ontario society.

For these provisions to have their intended impact, the proposed regulation must direct police training to address specific forms of discrimination, include regular monitoring, incorporate community perspectives, and integrate procedural justice.



a. Training must respond to specific forms of discrimination and racial profiling.

The OHRC welcomes section 83 of the CSPA which requires officers to receive training on systemic racism and human rights.[iii] This section presents the opportunity to address specific forms of systemic discrimination in policing including anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism and barriers faced by persons experiencing gender-based violence. The OHRC submits that the regulation should specifically include these issues and require police services to monitor efforts to address these forms of discrimination. 

There is a pressing need for training to address these concerns.  For example, a 2021 report by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security discussed policing and gender-based violence. The report found that Indigenous women who have experienced historical trauma are stigmatized in the justice system as less credible victims.[iv]  The report also found that “… abusive and racist treatment by police officers has in some cases made Indigenous women feel unsafe reporting their own victimization to these agencies.”[v] In response to these issues the report recommends training that “includes enhanced de-escalation, implicit bias, gender-based violence, cultural awareness, and the history of colonialism and slavery in Canada.”[vi]

An intersectional approach must be used to address these systemic issues. Accordingly, the regulation should require training on how intersecting forms of discrimination can shape a community’s relationship with the police. The intersection of race and mental health has been a particular concern for racialized communities in Ontario.  For example, research conducted for the OHRC’s Inquiry into anti-Black Racism by Toronto Police Services found that the Black persons in crisis are over-represented in police use of force data.[vii]  Police training must work to address the biases, norms or practices that underpin this over-representation.

Racial Profiling

The proposed regulation should also mandate training on racial profiling.  Racial profiling can have profound impact on racialized communities trust in police services.  The OHRC’s report, Under Suspicion: Research and consultation report on racial profiling in Ontario[viii] found that, “The widespread nature of incidents of racial profiling, along with a growing body of case law and social science and legal research, confirm not only that racial profiling exists, but also that it is a broad concern shared by many Ontarians…”

In Nassiah v. The Regional Municipality of Peel Police Services Board, the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario stated: “if officers are not appropriately trained on what may constitute racially biased profiling or investigation, they may consciously or subconsciously engage in this form of discriminatory conduct.”[ix]

Training that specifically addresses racial profiling will help police services identify organizational norms or practices that may perpetuate this practice and help uproot stereotypes about racialized groups that are embedded within a police organization’s culture.[x]


b. Training should be monitored and evaluated.

Monitoring and evaluating training is a leading practice that should be reflected in the proposed regulation. 

Training courses should be evaluated to determine if they are helping to achieve the objectives of the legislation. For example, police services should implement measures to determine whether the mandatory training on human rights and systemic racism[xi] are objectively improving the outcomes in these areas. 

In addition, officers should be evaluated on the extent to which they have grasped training concepts. The OHRC’s Racial Profiling Policy states that officer training should be evaluated on an ongoing basis, and that officers must demonstrate that lessons have been absorbed by passing the training.[xii] 

The OHRC’s Racial Profiling Policy and its work in policing have identified monitoring and evaluation as essential to effective organizational change. For example, the independent evaluation of Project Charter, an agreement between the OHRC, Toronto Police Services and the Toronto Police Services Board, found that “implementing evaluation tools and strategies would allow for more comprehensive assessments of the efficacy of human rights-related procedures.”[xiii]    

Evaluation systems may also help police services respond to skepticism[xiv] about the extent to which training can address systemic discrimination.

i. Methods of evaluation

Data collection should be a feature of an effective monitoring system. The OHRC’s position on the importance of data collection for police training is, in part, based on recommendations from the Honourable Frank Iacobucci’s report, Police Encounters with Persons in Crisis. To improve outcomes for persons in crisis during encounters with Toronto Police Services, that report recommended the development of data collection systems to analyze the effectiveness of training.[xv] In addition, race-based data collected by police services pursuant to the Anti-Racism Act, should be used to identify potential gaps in training, or as part of the indicators used to assess the effectiveness of training programs.  These approaches should be reflected in the proposed regulation. 

Other methods of evaluation which should be featured in the proposed regulation include independent and public monitoring of police training.[xvi] Public reporting will foster community engagement and co-operation; objectives that align with the intent of the CSPA.


c. Training should be developed in consultation with communities.

The proposed regulation should require police services to develop training in consultation with historically disadvantaged communities to address systemic discrimination.  In doing so, the regulation will promote co-operation between police services and communities where systemic discrimination has contributed to palpable mistrust. 

The social inequalities, systemic bias, and the lived experiences of racialized communities, 2SLGBTQ+ communities, and Indigenous communities, shape their interactions with police services. As such, training should help officers and civilian employees understand these experiences and respectfully engage with these communities. 

Training programs co-designed by community experts and stakeholders can also improve the police response to crisis calls from the community.[xvii]


d.Training model should feature professionalism and procedural justice.

To address problematic elements of police culture, training should shift from its current paramilitary model to a professional model based on procedural justice. 

Procedural justice has been described as “a model of policing which emphasizes listening and responding to people in the community, explaining police policies and practices in interactions with civilians, and treating the public with dignity, courtesy, and respect.” [xviii] Procedural justice in policing advances dignity, respect, neutrality, and co-operation with communities. [xix] These principles align with values espoused by the Code and the objectives of the CSPA.

To meet the challenges of modern policing, officers should demonstrate the ability to assess civilian behaviour, effectively communicate their decisions and de-escalate potential confrontations. To this end, police training should focus on skills that will equip officers with leading evidence-based practices relevant to the communities they serve.[xx] This can be achieved, in part, by implementing procedural justice training.

A study of the Chicago Police Department’s implementation of procedurally just policing found that the training helped reduce use of force against civilians, and complaints. The study also supports “... the feasibility of changing the command-and-control style of policing which has been associated with popular distrust and the use of force, through a broad training program built around the concept of procedurally just policing.”[xxi]



Human rights-based training is an essential tool for addressing systemic discrimination in policing. Training designed and developed in the manner described above is necessary if police services hope to live up to the principles declared at s. 1 of the CSPA. The CSPA’s training regulations should be designed to ensure that police services are able to meet those principles.



[i] Other resources include:


[ii] Submissions include:


[iii] Community Safety and Policing Act, 2019, S0 2019, c.1 at s. 83. 

[iv] Report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, Systemic Racism in Policing In Canada, 43d Parliament, 2nd Session (June 2021) online: at pg 47.

[v] Ibid at pg 49,  recommendation 18.

[vi] Ibid at pg 11, recommendation 34. 

[vii] Research conducted for the OHRC’s report, A Collective Impact found that, “Black people make up 8.8% of the Toronto population and 16.2% of use of force cases in which a mental health issue was noted.” See: Ontario Human Rights Commission, A Collective Impact: Interim report on the inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination of Black persons by the Toronto Police Service (2018), online: Ontario Human Rights Commission Addressing the systemic racism and violence impacting Indigenous women requires an approach which considers how discrimination based on race and gender intersect. See:  Report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security, Systemic Racism in Policing In Canada, 43d Parliament, 2nd Session (June 2021) online: at p 47. [Standing Committee Report]

[viii] Ontario Human Rights Commission, Under suspicion: Research and consultation report on racial profiling in Ontario (2017), online: Ontario Human Rights Commission

[ix] Nassiah v. Peel (Regional Municipality) Services Board, 2007 HRTO 14 (CanLII) at para. 209.

[x] Ontario Human Rights Commission, OHRC Response the Race Data and traffic Stops in Ottawa Report (2016) Online:

[xi] CPSA at 83(1)(e).

[xii] Ontario Human Rights Commission, Policy on eliminating racial profiling in law enforcement (2019), online: Ontario Human Rights Commission At 6.3.

[xiii] Diversity Institute at Toronto Metropolitan University (formerly Ryerson University), “Evaluation of the Human Rights Project Charter” (February 2014) at 28, online (pdf):

[xiv] The Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security’s report on Systemic Racism in Policing in Canada, noted that there has been “…skepticism about the efficacy of more police training as a means of combatting systemic racism”.  See Standing Committee Report at pg 47.

[xv] Iacobucci, F. (2014). Police Encounters with People in Crisis: An Independent Review Conducted by the Honourable Frank Iacobucci for Chief of Police William Blair, Toronto Police Service. Toronto, Ontario. (2014), Online: recommendation 22, at pg 19.

[xvi] Ontario Human Rights Commission, Policy on eliminating racial profiling in law enforcement (2019), online: Ontario Human Rights Commission

[xvii] Lavoie, J., Alvarez, N. & Kandil, Y. Developing Community Co-designed Scenario-Based Training for Police Mental Health Crisis Response: a Relational Policing Approach to De-escalation. J Police Crim Psych 37, 587–601 (2022).

[xviii]  George Wood & Tom R. Tyler & Andrew V. Papachristos, 2020. "Procedural justice training reduces police use of force and complaints against officers," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 117(18), pages 9815-9821, May.;   President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, “Final report of the President’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing” (Office of Community Oriented Policing Services, Washington, DC, 2015).

[xix] Dr. Jason Lee, Of Course the Cops Are Racist: Procedural Justice, the Perception of Racial Profiling, and Citizen Satisfaction with Law Enforcement, Criminology Criminal Justice Law and Society, VOLUME 18, ISSUE 2, PAGES 80–92 (2017).

[xx] Systemic Racism in Policing, at pg 30.

[xxi] George Wood & Tom R. Tyler & Andrew V. Papachristos, 2020. "Procedural justice training reduces police use of force and complaints against officers," Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, vol. 117(18), pages 9815-9821, May.