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The Ontario Human Rights Commission’s work with Peel Regional Police and Peel Police Services Board

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The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), the Peel Regional Police (PRP) and the Peel Police Services Board (PPSB) have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) committing to develop and implement legally binding remedies to identify and address systemic racism in policing, promote transparency and accountability, and enhance Black, other racialized and Indigenous communities’ trust in policing throughout Peel Region.

 

Community survey on policing in Peel Region

PRP, the PPSB and the OHRC are working together to develop recommendations to address systemic racism in policing. As part of this process, PRP has launched a survey asking for community feedback on experiences with, and perceptions of, Peel Regional Police. The OHRC encourages people who live, work or visit Peel Region to take the survey, which is confidential and anonymous.

Note: The PRP survey is available in English only.

 

The PRP, PPSB, OHRC Memorandum of Understanding

A memorandum of understanding is a formal agreement between two or more parties.

The OHRC has a Memorandum of Understanding with the PRP and the PPSB to work together to address systemic racism and discrimination in PRP’s service and employment practices. The MOU represents the starting point for the relationship between PRP, PPSB and the OHRC and outlines the scope, purpose and mutually accepted expectations of the parties as they work to achieve a common objective. While not a legal agreement in itself, an MOU signals the parties’ willingness to work towards a binding agreement.

Within the scope of the MOU, the OHRC is providing human rights guidance to the PRP and PPSB on their multi-year human rights organizational change project, named the Human Rights Project. The MOU also sets out some issues that are beyond the scope of the project. For example, the project is not intended to resolve individual complaints filed with the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO).

In accordance with the MOU, the parties will work collaboratively to adopt legally binding remedies that will address structural changes, the role of policing, policy and procedural changes, accountability and monitoring, and be responsive to communities’ calls for de-escalation, de-tasking and defunding. The recommended activities will be guided by the seven key principles in the OHRC’s Policy on eliminating racial profiling in law enforcement.

The parties recognize that it is essential to hear from and work with Black, other racialized and Indigenous communities and allies, to consider appropriate ways to address systemic racism in policing in Peel Region. The MOU includes an expectation that the PRP and PPSB, with the support of the OHRC, will engage with the communities they serve to draft recommended solutions that challenge systemic racism and discrimination in their service and employment practices.

Under the MOU, the proposed agreement with recommendations will be brought to the PPSB and OHRC Commissioners for approval. Following approval, the parties will jointly approach the HRTO to request a consent order. Once the HRTO grants the order the recommendations will become legally binding public interest remedies.

 

Legally binding remedies

A consent order is an order made under section 45.9 of the Human Rights Code that requires compliance with the terms of an agreed-on settlement. Orders issued by adjudicators at the HRTO are legally binding and enforceable.

The HRTO can order a wide range of remedies in the public interest which can have an impact on more people than just the person making the human rights application and the person and/or organization responding to it.

An independent monitoring body will be assigned to monitor compliance with the order. If a breach occurs, a contravention application can be filed with the HRTO to enforce the agreement. Where the HRTO determines that a party has contravened a settlement, the HRTO may make any order it considers appropriate to remedy the contravention.

 

Tracking compliance

Legally binding agreements in policing tend to cover a wide range of topics, such as data collection, use of force, accountability, stops and searches, training, recruitment, etc., so tracking compliance with each requirement of an agreement is a critical task. Typically, an independent monitor does this, and conducts compliance reviews to assess whether the party responsible for complying with the requirements of each remedy is in full compliance, in partial compliance or out of compliance.

Depending on the nature of the specific remedy, compliance can entail amending or creating new policies, procedures and directives; providing training that relates to realizing specific remedies (e.g. use of force training which emphasizes de-escalation techniques); demonstrating that a remedy is being is carried out in actual practice, etc.

When full compliance with all remedies has been achieved for a specified period of time – typically two consecutive years – the monitor’s term comes to an end, as does the agreement.