Statement from Ontario PC Community Safety and Correctional Services Critic Rick Nicholls on the Ombudsman’s report into police training on de-escalation

The following is a statement from Ontario PC Community Safety and Correctional Services Critic Rick Nicholls on the Ontario Ombudsman’s investigation into the direction provided by the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services to Ontario’s police services for de-escalation of conflict situations:

 

“I thank Ombudsman Dubé for his thorough report. The Ombudsman was clear that his report is not critical of police, but‎ of the ‘lack of leadership’ shown by the Wynne government in providing police officers with proper de-escalation training to deal with vulnerable Ontarians in crisis. 

The Ombudsman said that the Wynne government has taken such a ‘hands-off approach’ that it ‘has not even defined what de-escalation means, much less set out clear expectations for our police services.’ While other jurisdictions have made progress in new policing techniques, the Ombudsman said the Wynne government has neglected and even cut back on de-escalation training to save money.

I am pleased that the Ombudsman was clear that further studies and government consultations are not needed, but that the Wynne government must act now to improve the safety of both the public and our officers.

Minister Orazietti failed to take any responsibility on behalf of the Wynne government for how ‘their legacy of inaction’ may have contributed to what were likely unnecessary deaths of vulnerable Ontarians. 

We are disappointed that while the new Minister committed to bringing in regulatory changes on de-escalation training within the year as required by the Ombudsman, he made no commitment to properly fund the new training. 

We already know that the Wynne government’s failure to adequately fund mental health care in Ontario has forced police officers to become de facto front line mental health workers.

Without new funding for either police training or mental health services, the Wynne government again shows no interest in supporting persons in crisis or the hardworking men and women of Ontario’s police services who may interact with them.

The Ontario PC Caucus will continue to fight for proper funding of mental health services and police training to ensure that vulnerable citizens and frontline officers never again have to face the tragic situations of the past.”