Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security Tuesday, May 7, 2013 Chair

Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security Tuesday, May 7, 2013 Chair
Standing Committee on Public Safety and
National Security
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
Mr. Kevin Sorenson
Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
● (0910)
The Chair (Mr. Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, CPC)): Welcome,
everyone. This is the Standing Committee on Public Safety and
National Security on Tuesday, May 7, 2013. We're continuing our
study of the economics of policing in Canada, and we're very pleased
to have our first witness today. His name is Mr. Sandy Sweet, the
president of the Canadian Police Knowledge Network.
Our committee wants to thank you for being here today. We were
wondering how some of that online training of different police
happened and, hopefully, we're going to learn a little bit more about
that now. I'll turn the floor over to you.
Mr. Sandy Sweet (President, Canadian Police Knowledge
Network): Thank you. I guess I could have done this through video
conference and it would have been more true to form, but that's all
right. I just have a few short comments to make, an opening
statement of six minutes and 32 seconds, by my watch last night.
Hopefully that will prepare some context for the questions that will
The Canadian Police Knowledge Network is a federally
incorporated not-for-profit entity that partners with the police
community to develop and deliver technology-enhanced learning.
We are the leading provider of e-learning in the Canadian police and
law enforcement sectors.
I am here today to share my thoughts and experience regarding
police training in the context of the economics of policing
discussion. I have participated in two of the regional sessions, as
well as the summit that occurred here in January.
Though there has been much dialogue about the sustainability of
the current policing model, I found it interesting that there has been
little or no discussion about training as it relates to potential
efficiencies. In this country we consume about $1 billion a year in
police training. That's 8% of the overall $12 billion on policing, yet
nobody is looking at this strategically as a way to do things better.
That's what I'm going to talk about today.
My objective is to share what I know about the benefits of
technology as it relates to training both economically and otherwise,
and its potential to be part of the overall solution—and I stress that
it's part of the overall solution. It's not the be-all and end-all. The
work we've done has shown many advantages of taking a more
strategic, collaborative, and sector-wide approach. Above all, we
know that we can enhance the effectiveness and efficiency of
training with improved use of technology.
Don't get me wrong, I think that police training in this country is
mostly done very well. I'm not here to bash trainers to any extent.
But I also think the model must continually evolve and must
improve to gain efficiencies to meet new learner expectations as well
as to keep pace with the changing needs of front-line police officers.
I don't believe that technology is the be-all and end-all. You can't
learn how to swim online. There are some things they have to show
up and do face to face, and we're not going to eliminate that. What
we're going to do is make the best use of the time spent in
classrooms and make sure that knowledge transfer happens as
efficiently and effectively as possible.
A little background on CPKN. We've been around since 2004. As
I said, we're not-for-profit. Currently we have about 100 courses in
our catalogue, many of those in French as well as English. We have
about 75,000 registered users. If you think of the Canadian police
community, there are about 70,000 front-line officers. We do police
and law enforcement, so we have a pretty good penetration in terms
of across the board. And collectively those users have completed
about 400,000 courses online. So we've been around for a while, and
we kind of know this business as well as anybody in this country.
Interestingly, we have an 85% approval rating from end users
from the use of the courses. Again, we are building effective courses
that people like. Our mandate is to increase accessibility, scope, and
cost-effectiveness of training. We also play a significant role in
introducing innovation to this sector.
Interestingly, our model does not rely on any annual government
funding. Revenues are generated based on a very low cost pricing
model where individual police services can calculate the value in the
ROI themselves. So we're not-for-profit, we're run in a very
businesslike fashion. I like to tell people we're not for deficit. Last
fiscal year I think we broke even, or we were ahead by $10,000, and
that's where we like to be, just barely breaking even.
The reasons for our sustainability and success are really three-fold.
E-learning has some very well-known value propositions. The first
and foremost—and I won't get into all of them—is that you can take
four hours of classroom training and distill it down to about one hour
online. So if you think of the efficiencies of that, there's ample
opportunity for value when you put that across all police training.
Build it once, use it many times. You collaborate on that. We have
courses that we've been using now for five or six years. We update
them and keep them modern, but it's the same content. So you don't
have to keep bringing in new subject matter experts, or continually
using different people across the country. It's about anywhere,
anytime access.
Secondly, our model is very collaborative. I am the head of an
organization of about 20 people, none of whom is a police officer,
none of whom are former police officers or subject matter experts.
We rely on the police community to identify priority training topics,
to come to us with the content and the subject matter experts. What
we can do is turn that into an effective online training experience. It's
about cops teaching cops cop stuff, but in a very different delivery
The third thing we have going for us right now is the whole
network of relationships that we've built up over time. We're
connected with every police service in the country: all the major
police training academies, the Canadian Association of Police
Boards, the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police, and on it goes.
Our board of directors is the main selling point for our network.
You've had some of these people already here in front of you.
Commissioner Chris Lewis of the OPP is on our board, as are Chief
Andy McGrogan, from Medicine Hat, and Geoff Gruson from the
Police Sector Council. In the past, people like Julian Fantino have
been on the board. He was chair for a few years until he got busy
doing something else. I'm not sure where he is these days.
The model we've created is a best practice, really. In a sector well
known for its stove-pipe tendencies and for its jurisdictional rigidity,
we've been able to break down some of those silos and build courses
that work across the country.
As it relates to the economics of policing, while all of the things I
have just talked about are great, but we believe that we're just
scratching the surface. We can go much further. I talked about the $1
billion. There's ample opportunity for efficiencies there and that's
what we have to concentrate on. On the $1 billion, if you were to ask
most police services what their training budget was, they would look
and see the line item “training budget”, and that would cover trainers'
salaries, classrooms, supplies, tuitions, and those sorts of things. But
it doesn't count, in a lot of cases, are things like travel and
accommodation to go get training, backfilling, and overtime for
people who are off on training. But most importantly, what it doesn't
count is the amount of time of those bums in chairs. The people in
the classroom are getting paid, so we have to calculate that. When
you bring all that into account, it's $1 billion a year. There's stuff we
can do around that.
We have tons of studies—as I said, we've been around since 2004
—demonstrating the ROI of moving from traditional classroom to an
online or blended approach. We can talk about those. Also, research
shows that online training, if done correctly—which I say because
May 7, 2013
there's a lot of schlock out there—can be equal to or better than
classroom training. That's the goal of this, to build really effective
So why are we only scratching the surface, given all the hard
evidence to the contrary? There are lots of barriers to change, as we
know. Everybody loves the status quo; nobody likes to change.
There are cultural, financial, and technical issues.
The cultural bias is the hardest to overcome. Most of the people in
this room, some of the younger people maybe not, grew up in
classrooms. We are used to having that kind of training, consuming
training in that way. There are a lot of institutions that are built up to
train that way. Despite that hard evidence, we have to break the
status quo. This is disruptive innovation. It's about shaking things
I want to stress that training in this country, by and large, is done
well. I'm not saying to throw that model out, but I think we can do it
better and that we can do it better in lots of ways.
The last thing I want to talk about is that regardless of what I think
or what anybody wants to do, change is going to happen. We know
that. We know there are forces at work here that are larger than any
of the status quo forces. Demographics, technology, and economics
are all things that are converging right now.
On demographics, we know that younger people and most front
line police officers are in that demographic. An average hire these
days is around 26 or 27 years old. About 50% of front line police
officers have less than five years experience. You put those two
things together and you know that most front line police officers are
They embrace it, and are fully adapted to consuming information
and training through technology-based mediums. It's not simply a
preference. Research is showing they actually process information
differently than other generations do. I'll leave it to you to define
other generations. But I'm in that group and we must respond to that
They don't sit in the classroom very well for two weeks. They just
don't. They don't learn stuff. They have their hands in their pockets.
They're texting people. They're doing things. You tell them what
they have to learn, tell them by when they have to have it learned,
and they'll come back ready to do the face-to-face, hands-on stuff.
● (0915)
With technology, we know that change is ubiquitous; it's not
standing still. Gaming, simulations, community practice, massive
open online courses, mobile learning, just-in-time learning, and
operational support tools.... RoboCop kind of stuff is not very far in
the future. This is where we're going. We can't stand still; we have to
pursue this.
May 7, 2013
As it relates to the economics, what's interesting is that training is
the first thing that's cut. When you budget cut, training is easy; it's
just sitting there. As we know, it's deferred maintenance. You're
going to pay the price for that at some point. If we do this right we
can benefit the police community. Build it once, use it many times;
it's cost effectiveness that way. We can reduce the amount of effort
going into training by minimizing resources required to produce
training, thereby minimizing duplication. And we can convert a
significant portion of the time officers currently spend in training to
time on the job, where we want them. This improves productivity
without impacting quality.
To sum up, to do it right we have to have research, best practices,
and sector-wide collaboration. I think the $1 billion is a good target
and should motivate us.
Thank you.
● (0920)
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We'll go into the first round of questioning.
We'll start with Ms. Bergen.
Ms. Candice Bergen (Portage—Lisgar, CPC): Thank you very
much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you, Mr. Sweet, for being here.
Actually, I have been asking a few questions about training.
You're right, in that it seems like not a lot of people have a lot to say
about it or have seen it as an issue. This is the first time I've actually
heard a price tag associated with it—the $1 billion. That was out of
$8 billion, you said?
Mr. Sandy Sweet: If you look at the StatsCan report, it's $12
billion a year that we spend on policing in total.
Ms. Candice Bergen: And $1 billion of that is training?
Mr. Sandy Sweet: Yes.
Ms. Candice Bergen: The reason I'm interested in it is that I've
just come back. I was at RCMP Depot Division in Regina a few
weeks ago. There is classroom training, clearly, but there is also the
simulators they use for driving, firearms training, as well as real-life
scenarios. They actually showed us a screen that was a whole wall.
The person who was showing us was the police officer. A man was
getting out of a car and approaching him. They said this actually
happened in the States. The police officer ended up dying. They
went through every scenario where they were able to bring the man
Do you know what I'm talking about?
Mr. Sandy Sweet: Yes, I've seen that.
Ms. Candice Bergen: It's very, very interesting.
What I found to be very positive was that there's a real consistency
in the training model as well as the police advice: whatever situation
you're in, here are the values and here is the cycle you're going to go
through in your thought process and what action you're going to
I'm really interested in the online training. In my mind, I just see
the on-line training as somebody sitting in front of a computer
reading some information and then answering questions. It's pretty
basic. Am I missing something? When I see what happened at
Depot, how can that be translated into an online course?
Mr. Sandy Sweet: It's a great question. I think in the future we're
going to look at a bunch of different tools. They're doing the
simulations at Depot and at a couple of other places. Depot certainly
leads the country in that area, especially the firearms training around
skills acquisition.
There are many things you can do around knowledge transfer,
before people ever get into a simulator, to make them understand the
IMIM model—the use-of-force model—and the theory behind it
before they actually exercise it.
We're also starting out using some gaming technology in some of
our online courses so that you can get into an immersive simulation
in the midst of a course. You can do the knowledge transfer, do some
of the theory piece, and then let people practice in an online scenario.
It's no different from playing a Grand Theft Auto on Play Station 2—
that kind of thing.
As I said, it's still early days for us, but five years ago we wouldn't
use video in a course, whereas now video is in all our courses. We
know that we have to evolve; technology isn't standing still.
Think of those young cadets at Depot and if you could give them
access to some sandbox they could play in before they actually got
into the full-fledged scenario. It's a very expensive piece of
infrastructure they have at Depot, and that's why people aren't
replicating it across the country yet.
I think what we'll see is a continuum of classroom training—
you're always going to need the face-to-face stuff—immersive
simulation, gaming technology, online knowledge transfer, and
communities of practice, with operational support tools and
immediate feedback. You see now on police shows the vast amount
of video available because people have cameras in their cars, and
now people are starting to wear those cameras. Those are going to be
training opportunities in real-life situations.
That's why I say that what we need, going forward, is research,
best practices, and a sector-wide approach to finding what the
training model of the future looks like. It's all about getting the best
skills for people for the least amount of cost.
There's great stuff happening in Depot. For example, in the
firearms training they do, they prove that you can sit with the
simulator and do just as well as somebody beside you with a real
gun, but at a fraction of the cost and certainly with no risk.
Yet police organizations don't change very quickly, so they want
more and more research. I think what we have to do is convince
people that there are new ways of doing things. As long as you
qualify with a real pistol, it should be fine.
● (0925)
Ms. Candice Bergen: After being there and seeing the amazing
facilities they have, not only the simulators for driving training or
other purposes, but the real-life.... They have full houses built,
bungalows and two-storey houses, and they go in and do real raids.
It's amazing.
When I saw it I thought: we need to be using this, I'm thinking, at
the federal level.
Is it something the federal government could do, to offer this to
police services to come and have their training provided—of course,
covering the costs, etc.—to make better use of Depot?
I know we're talking about your company and what you do online,
and I want to talk more about that—I'm sure there will be more
questions—but with your experience, do you think this is something
the federal government could do: to offer Depot as a training
Mr. Sandy Sweet: I know there's capacity at Depot to do more
training. The Regina police are right there, and the Saskatchewan
Police College is right there, and they take advantage from time to
time of that capacity.
I think the model of shipping people around the country to train
them is passé. I don't think the future of police training is in bricks
and mortar; I think it's around technology-enhanced learning of the
best kind.
That's a fairly long view I'm taking. In the interim, could we take
advantage of that capacity just to prove that it works and to get
people used to it? There could be another regional centre in
Chilliwack, B.C., and another one across the country—that sort of
thing. But bringing everybody to Regina, in my mind, because of the
high cost of policing, is adding to police training costs.
Ms. Candice Bergen: The travel—
Mr. Sandy Sweet: It's part of that billion dollars that nobody is
looking at.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We'll move to Mr. Garrison, please, for seven minutes.
Mr. Randall Garrison (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, NDP):
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair, and thank you, Mr. Sweet for
being here today.
My background is in post-secondary education. In the criminal
justice course we try to offer new methods of delivering. I'm
interested in your saying that you're not receiving any funding; that
you're doing it all from cost recovery on the courses. My question
may end up being a compliment: it's a rare program that can actually
cover overhead costs out of the course fees. There are lots of
programs you can run in which people are willing to pay for the
courses, but not many people are willing to pay for the infrastructure
that allows their delivery.
Can you say a bit more about how you managed to do that? I'm
guessing I may be offering you a compliment, because I've never
seen this happen.
Mr. Sandy Sweet: Thank you for that. We're proud of the fact
that, nine or ten years on, we are sustainable and that we haven't
raised our prices since we started. What we depend on is low-cost,
high-volume. So over time if you look at our growth curve, it started
out very low, as technology traditionally does, and then we hit the
hockey stick or the tipping point and it's taken off. That allows us to
make some incremental investment in terms of additional capacity
and additional technology, but our pricing is.... The average cost for
one of our courses is less than $25. So when you think that replaces
May 7, 2013
about a day in the classroom, you can't get a day in a classroom for
$25 for an individual.
It's funny that when we first started we only had two comments
about our pricing. One was, “Wow that's cheap”. The other was,
“Why do we have to pay anything?”. We've found ways to ensure
that we....
As I said, we're 20 people and our budget is less than $2 million a
year, but our revenue is right around the same and we just keep
chasing that. We deal with the RCMP, the OPP, with Toronto, three
organizations that cover half the police officers in the country. We
have coast-to-coast—Vancouver, Calgary, whatever. We find that
every police service is different, but we find the sweet spot with
them where they like what we do. So it works for us.
Mr. Randall Garrison: You also talked about the need for
funding research and also for doing studies of best practices and
those kinds of things. I'm guessing that those go beyond the costs
that you're actually covering now. Can you talk a little bit about the
situation for research and better ways to deliver training?
Mr. Sandy Sweet: It's very difficult. We've had a couple of
research projects where we've found independent third parties to
come in and look at our courses and evaluate them, and we can learn
from that. One was funded by the Canadian Police Research
Council, which is now part of National Defence. It was great. I think
that project was about $100,000. We put about $100,000 worth of inkind effort into it, but we came out with some very tangible results
that we could communicate to people. But it's a very labour intensive
way to.... It's not just a matter of sitting there and you go pick it; you
really have to follow the application process.
We've worked closely in the past with the police sector council. I
think Geoff Gruson was in front of this group. Part of the funding
they had was for research and, again, we had independent third
parties come in.
But it's tough to go out and find that. We've recently started
talking to universities, and most large police services across the
country have a great affiliation with their local university or
community college. That helps them not just with training, but with
higher education as well. So we're hoping to tap into that to get
people interested. You know, post-secondary education is changing
dramatically as we speak as well. They have the same economic
challenges facing them as policing does. So their model of how they
deliver courseware is changing. So they are interested in us because
we have 75,000 registered users. What a great sandbox for them to
play in, in terms of research.
May 7, 2013
● (0930)
Mr. Randall Garrison: In terms of users of your courses, I know
that in post-secondary education we've talked about alternative
methods to delivery. The presumption was that people in rural and
remote areas would be able to access this, and people who, say, are
working non-traditional hours, but wanted to study. But actually, in
the college that I worked in, we found out that they weren't those
who accessed these things at all. In fact most of the people, as you
talked about, were people who found this method of learning more
amenable to their learning styles. We were still left with difficulties
reaching those other people in rural or remote areas. So when you
talk about online training and those kinds of things, could you talk a
little bit about whether you're meeting the challenge of rural and
remote areas?
Mr. Sandy Sweet: There are issues around bandwidth. We don't
like to design our courses to the lowest common denominator so that
they work everywhere, but for somebody with high-speed Internet,
they're just not taking advantage of all the media richness that can be
available. So we kind of play with that, finding the right balance
Two of our largest police organizations in this country, the RCMP
and the OPP, both have large geographic areas to cover and therefore
huge challenges on the training side. The OPP has done some
interesting things in terms of having remote satellite classrooms. I
think there are five or six across Ontario. They don't have to bring
everybody into the academy in Orillia; they can bring them into
Thunder Bay or wherever, and have them access training that way.
From a technical point of view, delivering courseware is for us
much less challenging than it used to be. You know, the dial-up kind
of days are.... You still hit them in remote places in the north; we still
have issues. We've found some ways around those, with DVDs.
There aren't very many of those people, so you just use a different
alternative for delivering that.
We find that we've had great buy-in from those places, because
they get access to training that normally they would have to fly out
to get—spending thousands of dollars on it.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We'll move to Mr. Norlock, please, for seven minutes.
Mr. Rick Norlock (Northumberland—Quinte West, CPC):
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Through you to the witness, thank you for attending today.
I'm very interested in the training, and in the training through the
new modules. Some of us who have been out of the business for
quite some time saw the introduction of that, and the benefit of it.
I wonder if you could talk about the regulatory regime around
training. A great deal of the police training, at least as far as I can
recall, was mandated because of coroner's inquests, because of
inadequacies found in policing and the need to bring officers.... I
think of this particularly with regard to pepper spray, the proper use
of the ASP.
I wonder if you could talk about some of the reasons why. I know
that continues on today, with a scheduling nightmare around what
the OPP refer to as “block training”.
For those who may want to know, that's when you take an officer
out of the detachment and they go through intensive training once a
year for four days.
I wonder if you could you talk about that, and about the ability of
smaller police forces to provide the same quality and quantity of
training as opposed to some of the larger forces that you talked
● (0935)
Mr. Sandy Sweet: There's a whole bunch there, but I'll try my
No surprise to anybody here, policing in this country is seen by
most people to be a provincial jurisdiction. There are police acts in
each of the provinces across the country, with varying degrees of
police training prescribed in them.
Ontario has adequacy standards. It's very clear that in order to be a
police organization in this province, you have to be able to do this,
that, and the other thing in terms of the expertise you must have on
your police force. Then you train to those standards.
In other provinces, B.C., Alberta, and Saskatchewan—Manitoba
now has a new police act—people are moving in that direction.
We're being more prescribed as opposed to laissez-faire around that.
A lot of it comes from liability, the liability that gets exposed through
inquiries, such as the Dziekanski inquiry or whatever.
To go back to a point I made earlier, when you see an inquiry,
training is one thing that always comes out of it—you've got to train
better here—and yet when the budget is cut, training is the first thing
that goes. There's a dichotomy there.
I think we will never have a national training standard in this
country. “Never” is a long time, but I don't see that coming. But you
can have policing.... If you take the jurisdictions out, policing in any
province compared with the next is very similar. So if you
concentrate on those commonalities, you can get best practices and
build good training around them.
For instance, the Alberta Solicitor General built a series of courses
on investigative skills education. We've taken that, and it's now being
used in British Columbia as well as Prince Edward Island. There is
an opportunity for other jurisdictions to learn from one jurisdiction.
So as it relates to that big question about training standards across
the country, we're kind of in a world of hurt there because of the
provincial jurisdictions. You know, it's about that sector-wide
approach and about the collaboration; I think we can go at that.
I forget the last part of your question.
Mr. Rick Norlock: I guess you explained it in the differences
right across Canada.
The next question I had was who's doing the major part of policeassociated research; in other words, best practices, what works best,
what are the most modern...? It used to be we went to one of the
Michigan universities for a lot of the studies. I know in the OPP we
looked at them, because they had one or two of their universities,
one in particular. I know the University of Western Ontario does
some research into that sort of adopting of best practices or leadingedge stuff. Usually we compare ourselves with police forces in the
western world that have similar laws and similar challenges to ours. I
wonder if you could comment on who's doing the bulk of research. If
you're running a police organization, who do you go to? Who do you
look at for some best practices or some cutting-edge stuff?
Mr. Sandy Sweet: It's a great question, and I think one of the
weaknesses in our current model is that there is no one place for that.
Actually the police community is very good at finding out
themselves who's doing something interesting and going off and
seeing if it would apply in their local jurisdiction. But from a
research perspective, Chris Murphy at Dalhousie is doing interesting
things; Mike Kempa from Carleton is doing interesting things; at
Simon Fraser University, they're doing interesting things.
Police services tend to team up with a local university, and that's
the flavour they're very comfortable with. Linda Duxbury is another
one from here in Ottawa who has done great work in policing and
other areas. There's no one place. In the U.S. they have PERF. In the
U.K. they have their national police college. Those are central bodies
that are made for this type of information-sharing, repositories, if
you will, for what's going on. The Canadian Association of Chiefs of
Police has a role to play in that through their annual conferences, but
it's not formalized, it's more ad hoc.
● (0940)
Mr. Rick Norlock: Thank you.
I just wonder if you could now talk about training. I know you
probably would be reticent to do this, but you can couch the
wording. When it comes down to the cutting edge in Canada, who's
exploring avenues that seem to be bearing the best fruit? Who could
we point our researchers at, or who could we point ourselves at to
take a look at what they're doing, especially in the field of how that
training accommodates making that officer do the work of one and a
quarter; in other words, to make that officer a more efficient and
effective law-enforcement agent?
Mr. Sandy Sweet: Wow, that's a tough question.
The Chair: Time is up. We're going to have to just move to the
next one.
Mr. Rick Norlock: If I may, since I've run out of time, perhaps the
chair would want to explain that an answer can be given to us at a
later date.
The Chair: For any of these questions, if you don't have a way of
segueing it into, say, Mr. Scarpaleggia's or another round, you can
always submit an answer.
Mr. Scarpaleggia, go ahead, please.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia (Lac-Saint-Louis, Lib.): Thank you.
You were saying, Mr. Sweet, that we spend about $1 billion in
Canada across all police forces—federal, provincial, and municipal
—on training. You mentioned that the software-based training would
May 7, 2013
save money. Have you thought about or analyzed or projected what
the cost curve of training would look like if police forces across
Canada used online training to its full potential and if the online
training was brought up to the highest standard? In other words,
there would be some initial investments so that figure might go up
and then it might go down. Do you have a sense as to what the future
could look like if we invested what we need to invest to get the best
and most up-to-date world-class online training that would be picked
up by the maximum number of police forces in Canada? I know
that's a very big question. I understand, but do you have a sense of
where we're headed? The $1 billion is going up. Is it going to go
down if we follow your recommendations? Do you know how much
it's going to go down?
Mr. Sandy Sweet: It's 10% to 30%.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: It could go down 10% to 30%?
Mr. Sandy Sweet: Remember, what I'm talking about is not
dollars, because people don't have a billion dollars in their training
budgets. They have some of that in their salary budgets, if you will.
What you're doing is freeing up that much in terms of resources to do
other things with, but if you save 10%, that's $100 million worth of
resources. If you put that into $100,000 per police officer, how many
new police officers is that? That's 1,000 new police officers. That's
the order of magnitude we're talking about. If it's 30%, on the high
end, do the math. It's significant. With incremental investment on the
front end, you're talking about.... Over the next three years if you put
in somewhere between $10 million and $20 million, that little
amount of investment could get you that payback year after year
after year. That's the order of magnitude.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: That's interesting. So you have
thought about it, obviously.
How many people are in your organization, per se?
Mr. Sandy Sweet: We have 20 full-time employees.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Twenty full-time employees.
Is there a lot of training software out there? Is it really difficult to
come up with the best training software? Are there many suppliers,
or is there just one really good training software for, I don't know,
pulling over a drunk driver or something? I'm just pulling anything
out of the air. Or is there quite a lot out there you have to evaluate,
and so on?
Mr. Sandy Sweet: We don't have a competitor in this country.
There is nobody doing what we're doing in terms of the breadth and
the depth of training courses that we have in our catalogue. We get
phone calls every day of the week, every week of the month, from
private sector companies who want to have access to our 75,000
users. They say, “Wow, we have this great thing. Let's partner on
this”. They'll take 80%, and we'll take 20%. We've worked with
private sector partners before and have had good partnerships with
them. There's nothing wrong with that.
May 7, 2013
But of the 100 courses we have in our catalogue, my team has
built probably 60 or 65 of those. The other 35 or 40 have come from
either the RCMP, the Toronto Police Service, the Calgary Police
Service, Durham. There are pockets of e-learning units that occur in
the Canadian police community, and they come to us with the
courses they've developed and we make them available to every cop
in Canada sort of thing. So yes, we're a developer, but we're also a
platform for collaboration and sharing.
Our challenge, quite frankly, is keeping up with technology and
making sure our topics are relevant but also our courseware is
relevant, especially in terms of what younger people need. We know
that the courses we build today are different than the ones we built
three to five years ago. The challenge for my team is what our
courseware will to look like in three to five years, which brings in
gaming and simulation. It's probably shorter and just in time than it
is longer. We'll also in the future do instructor-led training, which we
don't do now, and that sort of thing.
I'm not sure if I wandered off with that.
● (0945)
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: You answered it perfectly.
Maybe you mentioned this, but how are you funded? Where does
the money come from?
Mr. Sandy Sweet: We're funded by revenues. We had funding. I
live in Prince Edward Island. Our head office is in Charlottetown.
We started up with funding in 2003 that came from the Atlantic
Canada Opportunities Agency, from Holland College in Prince
Edward Island, as well as the National Research Council. That
money has been long gone. That was a start-up of three to five years
to get us up and running as our revenues started to grow. About five
or six years ago we started to break even, and we've been sustaining
ourselves based on revenues since.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: You are really an entrepreneurial
enterprise, at the end of the day.
Mr. Sandy Sweet: It's not for deficit.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: You also offer these courses not only
to the police forces but to police programs. For example, in my
riding we have John Abbott College, which has a police tech
Mr. Sandy Sweet: Yes. We have a subset of our catalogue that's
available for police foundation students.
As an aside, we've also just recently launched a separate catalogue
of courses in private security, the Private Security Training Network,
because we had private security people coming to us all the time.
Our police people and our board of directors weren't comfortable
with private security having police training. We've repurposed some
of that. We also launched the Canadian Corrections Knowledge
Network last week. Again, it's very corrections-specific things that
we're doing. We're trying to use that CPKN policing model in other
sectors but all under the same umbrella and all for the benefit of
Canadian policing.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Sweet.
Mr. Rousseau, please go ahead. You have five minutes.
Mr. Jean Rousseau (Compton—Stanstead, NDP): Thank you.
Thank you for being here.
My first question is this. Who really manages the content? Do the
various police forces manage the content? Is it constantly updated? Is
it verified? When there's legislation-related or legal content, do
members of the bar or others review it for objectivity and accuracy?
Mr. Sandy Sweet: Thank you for that question.
I'm sorry, my French is not good enough—
Mr. Jean Rousseau: It's okay, Mr. Sweet.
Mr. Sandy Sweet: —to respond en français.
The content is a key part of our model. As I explained earlier, I
don't have one subject-matter expert on staff. So we rely on the
Canadian police community to supply the content and the subjectmatter expert that our techies deal with to create the online course.
We have a content provider agreement for every one of our courses
that very clearly lays out the roles and responsibilities. They are
responsible for ensuring that this content is accurate and up to date,
and that it has passed the various thresholds that you're talking about,
whether it's legal or standard operating procedures, the police act,
Then it has to be reviewed once a year, at a minimum. If
something changes three months down the road, they will typically
call us, and the beauty of online training is that you can change it on
the fly. It can be up to date the next day with the new common law...
whatever. So yes, it's looked at. Every one of our courses is looked at
to make sure it's accurate and up to date all the time.
● (0950)
Mr. Jean Rousseau: Are the courses available in French and in
English across the country?
Mr. Sandy Sweet: Could you please repeat the question?
Mr. Jean Rousseau: Are all the courses available in English and
Mr. Sandy Sweet: No. Right now of the 100 courses we have, I
think 40 or 45
are available in French.
Anything that we have built with the federal government,
obviously, has to be available in both official languages. We have
a relationship with ENPQ, École nationale de police, and they
actually are doing some translation for us and are our agent in the
province of Quebec.
Mr. Jean Rousseau: That's good.
Mr. Sandy Sweet: We provide end-user support en français. So if
you're a police officer in Laval and you have an issue, if you phone
our help desk you will get support en français.
It has not been a huge priority for us to move as quickly as we can
or maybe should have in the province of Quebec, and we're doing
that now with the ENPQ. Montreal does some very interesting things
online in using e-learning. We've had some relationships with La
Sûreté as well.
Mr. Jean Rousseau: A moment ago, we were talking about the
updating process.
Are there different subjects that come up? Do new courses come
up, for example, on subjects like different ethnicities or the different
cultural communities that make up our demographic landscape? Are
there courses dealing with the use of new drugs? Do you do update
the content from that perspective?
Mr. Sandy Sweet: Yes, and again, the model is that we rely on the
police community to identify new topics and we ask them, can you
build something on this? Diversity is huge. So we have a series of
courses on diversity, from aboriginal awareness to items of religious
significance.Then it's building a series of courses. Especially in large
cities with the ethnic diversity we have, police officers need to
understand where the various groups are coming from in order to
police better. So we have a series of courses on that.
We have a series of courses on officer wellness, everything from
fatigue management to healthy eating, to officer drinking and
driving. It's helping them out. We have a course on preventing
officer-involved collisions. So for a police officer going from point
A to point B, making sure they get to point B. That's actually been
one of our most successful courses, which we recently distributed to
the Hong Kong Police College. We're also dealing with Australia;
they're interested in that course.
That came out of the OPP having an issue around smashing cars.
They just smashed too many cars; too many people were getting
hurt. They wanted everybody trained on that in a short period of
time, and so they came to us. We built a three-hour course, and they
had 97% of their people take the course, and the following year
collisions went down 25%.
The Chair: Thanks very much, Mr. Sweet.
Mr. Rousseau, thank you.
Mr. Payne, please. You have five minutes.
Mr. LaVar Payne (Medicine Hat, CPC): Thank you, Chair, and
my questions are through you to the witness.
Thank you for coming today. It's important information that you're
providing. I was interested to learn that my chief of police, Andy
McGrogan, is on your committee.
I know that there's a lot of training that goes on, and in particular
the Medicine Hat Police Service will quite often take recruits from
the Lethbridge community college. So I'm just curious as to what
kind of interface you would have with the college. You did talk
about bums in chairs versus online training, and I know that the
May 7, 2013
college obviously puts these individuals through their training
program at the college and there obviously must be bums in chairs.
But is there some particular program that you are providing to them
or they to you that is important for those individuals who are
learning to become police officers?
● (0955)
Mr. Sandy Sweet: You're talking specifically of Lethbridge
Mr. LaVar Payne: Well, it could be any particular college, but
certainly I know the community college in Lethbridge does provide
trainees for the police force.
Mr. Sandy Sweet: Yes. Actually Andy McGrogan is the new
chair of our board as of last Thursday—
Mr. LaVar Payne: Okay, I'll have to congratulate him.
Mr. Sandy Sweet: —so you can pat him on the back for that, yes.
There are 16 police academies across the country and we work
with each one of those to varying degrees. JIBC would use probably
five or six of our courses as part of their cadet training program.
Similarly, the Atlantic Police Academy uses five or six. Depot uses
some of our online courses. As for Lethbridge, I'm not so sure. I just
don't know how many courses they would use.
What's really working in general, whether it's in police services or
academies, is a blending of technology and classroom. You don't
eliminate the classroom, but if you're going to do an interviewing
course in a classroom, a lot of police training academies and police
services are asking their people to take the online course first. It's a
two-hour course. It gives you all the basics. Then you can come in
and talk about interviewing and do some role playing and that sort of
So a lot of the police training academies across the country are
doing that. Saskatchewan Police College is doing that as well.
Mr. LaVar Payne: One of the other things you talked about was
how your model must be evolving all the time and particularly with
changes in on-the-ground policing. I'm just wondering what you're
getting from the on-the-ground police officers that helps you in terms
of developing programs or updating programs that you might already
Mr. Sandy Sweet: It's interesting. The two biggest issues we're
dealing with right now are around social media. It goes both ways:
how do police services use social media to their advantage, and how
do they intercept or understand what bad people are doing when
they're using social media? And that includes all the various groups,
whether it's Occupy or Idle No More, or any kind of crowd-sourcing
kind of thing going on.
So they're looking for courses on that and we're looking for
subject matter experts on that. What it comes down to is the whole
field changes very quickly. So you have to chase that.
May 7, 2013
The other issue coming out of Boston was anti-terrorism, frontline police officer anti-terrorism. And actually we had just launched
a course. The RCMP had developed it. We hosted it and made it
available for free to police officers across the country, and as soon as
that situation hit in Boston, we had a big uptick in people wanting to know, if you see something, say something, that
sort of thing.
We try to be really responsive but we can only be as responsive as
the content allows, if you will. We can't just put training out there
until it has been vetted through the whole process that we use.
Mr. LaVar Payne: In terms of a prospective instructor and
educator, there are risks with online training. What are they, and how
do you know that in fact police officers have actually learned what
they should be learning in some of these online programs? I think it's
important, obviously, that they learn it. And then secondly, is there a
way that you check or that the police force can check to make sure
that they have actually learned those particular skills and then can
take them into the field?
Mr. Sandy Sweet: I won't bore you with our design and
development process, but it's based on sound adult learning
principles. There's self-testing and testing that occurs throughout
the modules. All the courses are broken up into modules. Every
course has an exam. At a minimum you know that person got 85%
on that exam, or it is pass-fail. There are various grading
But that doesn't mean that they still understand things six months
or 12 months out. That's the research we talked about earlier. We've
had two chunks of research done to make sure that longitudinal
retention was still there.
You come back to learning styles. In the classroom it's the same
thing. How do you know that people understood that in a classroom
six months out and 12 months out? It's part of what we have to get
better at, in terms of skills retention and skills perishability. People
qualify on firearms every year or two years. Should it be every six
months or every 18 months? We don't know. It's just arbitrary. That's
the way we've done it; that's the way we do it.
But I think we have to get better at that sort of thing. We're
vigilant about it now. We don't just think that it happens. Also there's
an onus of responsibility on police officers. When they take a course
and they pass that course, now it's assumed that they have that skill
or knowledge to go out and do their job. If something happens in an
inquiry, the first question is, “Were you trained? What was the course
training standard? How long ago was it?” It's a big part of what we
● (1000)
The Chair: Thank you very much.
Unfortunately, our time is up today. We have our next group
waiting for us.
We do sincerely thank you. This is the first briefing I've ever had
on the Canadian Police Knowledge Network. We understand a little
bit how new technology has changed the way that our police forces
are trained. We can only imagine as technology continues to change
and grow that you will be part of it as well. We thank you for the
good work that you're doing.
We're going to suspend momentarily to let Mr. Sweet move out of
his position. We'll ask the commissionaires if they would move up
towards the table. Thank you.
We'll call this meeting back to order.
This is the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National
Security. We're continuing our study of the economics of policing in
I don't know if it was last year or a number of years ago, but the
commissionaires made their rounds and did some meetings with
members of Parliament. I had the pleasure to meet with them. I
learned a few things then and I know other members of Parliament
did as well. Members of the committee had recommended that they
come and appear before us.
In this hour we're hearing from the commissionaires. Captain Paul
Guindon—if I mispronounced your name, I apologize—is the chief
executive officer of the Commissionaires of Ottawa. Colonel
Douglas Briscoe is the executive director of the national office of
the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires.
We thank you again for appearing before us and helping us with
our study. Canadians know about the good work of the
commissionaires all across Canada. You're a fairly high profile
group that we've all seen at different public buildings around the Hill
and here in Ottawa.
I invite you to make your opening statements. Tell us about what
you do. We'll begin with Mr. Guindon, please.
Captain(N) (Retired) Paul Guindon (Chief Executive Officer,
Commissionaires Ottawa, Canadian Corps of Commissionaires):
Mr. Chair, ladies and gentlemen, good morning. I am very pleased to
be here today.
As your chairman said, I am retired naval Captain Paul Guindon,
the CEO of Commissionaires Ottawa, but I do represent the
Canadian Corps of Commissionaires as the chairman of our national
business management committee. With me is retired Colonel Doug
Briscoe, who is the executive director.
We're still doing our rounds, by the way, Mr. President, so we
haven't completed it quite yet.
The Canadian Corps of Commissionaires is a national institution
at the service of Canada's veterans. Created in 1925, it is driven by
its social mandate to provide meaningful employment for veterans of
the military, the reserves, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police.
Commissionaires is a uniquely Canadian solution for veterans by
veterans, who lead and manage the organization. It is a fully selfsupporting private organization founded on the core military values
of dedication, responsibility, and mission, and fuelled by the talents
and experiences of veterans. It is also a not-for-profit organization,
returning about 95% of its gross revenue back to its veteran and nonveteran members while sustaining a thriving, national, self-funded
private enterprise.
Commissionaires has 45 offices and a presence in 1,200
communities from coast to coast. In fact, it is the largest private
sector employer of veterans in Canada. We currently have 8,000
veteran employees, and we are hiring 1,000 additional veterans per
year. This is crucial because approximately 70% of all veterans do
not have a government pension and are not eligible for Veterans
Affairs programs. In the majority of cases, the income veterans
receive through Commissionaires is their only revenue. No veteran
who is seeking and can perform a job is turned away, providing them
with much-needed remuneration. Because we are a not-for-profit
organization, the services provided by Commissionaires to the
Government of Canada are at cost.
While many of you are aware of the work we do guarding federal
buildings, you are likely to be less familiar with how we have been
working with police services in communities across Canada. This
has now become an important area of business for us, and it is
currently employing approximately 1,000 of our members. This is a
line of business that has grown incrementally. While our federal
guard services contract gives us a footprint across the country, where
these guard service jobs are located and where veterans are located
do not always match up. In some parts of the country we have lots of
veterans but few federal guard service jobs. We want to develop
other opportunities for our veterans. Our local offices built up this
non-core policing initiative community by community, contract by
contract, in an organic fashion. Most of the growth was initially in
western Canada, but now all of our offices are involved in non-core
policing. There is a strong fit between the skills of veterans and the
needs of police services. There is a common emphasis on discipline,
responsibility, and public service. Police services appreciate
Commissionaires because of our ability to train and retain reliable
employees who can fit in with a police structure.
We did a recent survey to identify all the alternative service
activities provided to police agencies. We are performing over 60
separate functions. We have attached a list at the back of our
statement. It is a very interesting list because it suggests all the
functions that do not necessarily have to be provided by a sworn,
uniformed police officer. And in employing Commissionaires as
alternate service delivery, these police services are achieving three
The first, and most important, is to ensure their sworn officers are
doing priority policing tasks and being relieved, to the extent
possible, of routine, repetitive tasks. Police services want their
officers to maximize their face time on the streets and in the
● (1005)
The second objective is to contain costs in a challenging economic
environment where all government agencies are being asked to do
more with less.
And for Commissionaires, it is also about providing a broader
range of employment that better matches the skill sets of modern-day
veterans of the Canadian Forces, the RCMP, as well as other police
While our non-core policing business has grown in an incremental
fashion, we have determined, as a national group, to put more
resources and effort into this area across the country. We will be
May 7, 2013
focusing on the following, as an example: detention services, arrest
and release processing, prisoner monitoring and transportation,
summons and subpoena services, crime scene security, bylaw
enforcement, electronic ticketing, non-criminal fingerprinting and
police clearances, photo radar operation, inventory and front desk
management, and 911 dispatch.
We will be putting additional resources in these areas for two
principal reasons: budget constraints will create more business
opportunities in this area for our organization, and we have
recognized the changing reality of modern veterans. No longer are
our people exclusively retirees looking to supplement their pensions.
The recent war in Afghanistan and the rapid turnover and early
retirement of police and military members have resulted in a younger
and more dynamic veteran than we have seen in decades. In some
cases the level of training our veterans bring to the table is
Our challenge is to remain relevant to our police and military
community by offering this highly skilled and typically younger
group of veterans meaningful, rewarding, and financially sustainable
employment. Not every veteran will want a static guard job, so we
want to provide more choices, along with the opportunity for higher
pay. This is also an area in which we are employing many retired
veterans of police forces, which we believe is complementary with
our social mandate.
We note in the committee transcripts so far that most of the
discussion on policing economics has been focused on municipal
police forces. You may also want to explore federal alternative
services at every opportunity. The RCMP is the provincial police
force in a number of provinces. We are sure there are a number of
areas where the private sector could save the RCMP time and money,
which in turn would allow the RCMP to stay focused on their core
Corrections Canada, for example, should also be looking at how
they could use the private sector to reduce costs and increase
efficiencies. We can see a number of functions that could be
performed by the private sector, such as escort duties, some
guarding, some parole services.
In our testimony we would like to highlight a unique program in
which we support the RCMP. This is the guards and matron
program, in which over 2,780 mostly part-time jobs are provided in
many regions of the country. The RCMP does the recruitment and
training locally, and we provide the back-office support, HR and pay
services. This is an important service but particularly so in remote
areas and aboriginal communities. We are proud to support the
RCMP in this area.
These alternative services will continue to be a growing part of
our business because it is an opportunity to create more employment
opportunities for our veterans. We have included a couple of case
studies with our statement, and we will certainly be pleased to
answer any of your questions, monsieur le président.
May 7, 2013
● (1010)
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We'll move into our first round of questioning, and we'll go to Mr.
Hawn, please, for seven minutes.
Hon. Laurie Hawn (Edmonton Centre, CPC): Thank you very
much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to our witnesses for being here.
I have a number of questions, some requiring short answers and
some maybe a little longer.
You talked about your workforce being composed of CF veterans
and RCMP, but that's not your total workforce. What percentage
would fall under the veterans, police, RCMP, and what percentage
would be other than?
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: Nationally we have approximately just
short of 20,000 employees, of which almost 3,000 are part time, so
that is 17,000. We have 8,000 retired members from the RCMP and
the military, veterans, so it would be about 40%, 45%.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: Okay. You talked about 95% of the
remuneration going to veterans or employees. Is that just in the
form of wages, or are there other benefits that they get?
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: That's in the form of wages and benefits,
both combined.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: Okay. Benefits meaning health care...?
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: Absolutely: uniforms, dental programs,
medical programs, free training, and that sort of thing.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: I've met a lot of very chronologically
experienced commissionaires in my day. Is there an age limit for the
Commissionaires corps? Is it strictly based on health and...?
Colonel (Retired) Douglas Briscoe (Executive Director, National Office, Canadian Corps of Commissionaires): No, there
isn't an age limit per se. I think that's an older perception of what the
Commissionaires are. We're a much younger force than we were, but
that perception remains.
There are more veterans coming to us. The Canadian Forces
members are retiring at an earlier age; I believe the average age now
is 39. We're getting those people coming to our door. That's why this
opportunity is important: because we think we can match some of
the skill sets required for this work to the skill sets of those people
leaving the forces.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: You bet, and that's important.
My next question is on the training in some of the new areas that
you're looking at getting into, some of which have potentially a fairly
significant physical element attached. The opportunity to get
younger retirees or people who are leaving the military and police
obviously gives you the opportunity to expand into those areas
safely and effectively.
With respect to training and training delivery, you mentioned local
training with the RCMP. Are you getting it also in local police
forces? Is it in-house training that you do? Can you describe your
training delivery?
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: In fact, we have both classroom and
online/e-learning training methods. We train our guard force in
accordance with provincial legislation and regulation. As well, we
train them also because not all provinces have a training regulation
or legislation on legislating private security. In the Maritimes, the
Atlantic provinces are not quite there yet. We also train using the
CGSB, which is a federally endorsed training standards curriculum.
We've combined the two, and that's what we train to across the
But we also provide a lot of training in leadership and
management, which is not regulated and not mandated across any
of the provinces. We have two levels of courses. In order to provide
management and leadership training to our field management, we
also provide first aid, CPR, and defibrillator training, which is not
necessarily mandated in each jurisdiction either.
We do have a robust training program. When we get a contract in
parking enforcement with a city, let's say, there will be specific
training for that commissionaire to do her job. It's targeted training
that we also provide, which we either design ourselves or in
cooperation with the city or the police agency.
● (1015)
Hon. Laurie Hawn: We've heard from a lot of experts in various
communities. Prince Albert and many others are taking a community
approach to crime prevention, policing, and so on.
Because of the level of maturity of a lot of your members—and I
don't mean maturity as in chronologically experienced—especially
your new members, such as veterans, RCMP, and so on, who are
coming to you with qualities of discipline, self-confidence, leadership training, and so on, do you see the commissionaires assuming a
larger role in that kind of community approach to policing?
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: It's something that we haven't thought
about in the past, but I would say yes. By the way, we do employ
five generations in our workforce. In itself that may not seem
important, but it is, and especially when you get into work that is a
bit more demanding in terms of stress and management.
I'll give you a good example. It's not slated as non-core police
work, but it's mall work in shopping centres. We have a contract....
Well, all shopping centres are not necessarily easy sites for a private
security provider to work in, but you need the right mix of people. I
was visiting Sudbury. We do security at one of the malls there. It
took us a few months to realize that often a generation will deal
better with their peers within the same generation, so we have a mix
in our workforce, not only in terms of statistics but also in terms of
who we put on the ground.
With that in mind, and obviously with the right training, I think we
would certainly be capable of doing that sort of work, but that has
not been our focus so far.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: I guess that would lead me to my next
question in terms of employee monitoring and development and so
on, the whole training thing, and putting people in the right place
with the right skills and so on. Are there career paths within the
Commissionaires? Or is it really job dependent or location
dependent and that sort of thing? How do you handle the
advancement of a commissionaire?
May 7, 2013
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: Yes. We have a performance management program. We do a monitor report on each and every member.
Of course, it depends, because we have 16 divisions, as we call
them, across the country. Some are larger and some are smaller. In a
larger environment, it's much easier to provide a career path.
Yes, we want to have more veterans in there, within our ranks.
Eight thousand is not enough. As I said earlier, we're recruiting about
a thousand a year. Yes, there are some who are retiring at the same
time, but we are much more aggressive in our recruiting approach,
our recruiting effort. This is another means to do that.
For example, here in Ottawa, we have commissionaires who have
been with us 10, 15, or 30 years and who started as a guard and are
now a part of management. They started as guards and now are part
of the cadre of instructors and trainers that we have. So yes, there is a
career path, and we do track performance.
Mr. John Rafferty: As you've moved forward, and as you are
moving forward, have you found that police services, and I suppose
municipal police services in particular, have been quite amenable to
opening their doors to the Commissionaires?
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Hawn.
We'll now move to Mr. Rafferty, I believe, for seven minutes.
Mr. John Rafferty (Thunder Bay—Rainy River, NDP): Thank
you very much, Chair.
Thank you very much for being here. I appreciate this opportunity.
I think it was last month that you were in my office and I had a half
an hour or so with you. As is usually the case, five minutes after you
left, I thought to myself, “Oh, I should have asked this question”.
Now I get the opportunity.
All the commissionaires are not necessarily veterans, though.
What would be the percentages of veterans and others in the present
● (1020)
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: In the present workforce, it's about 45%,
or 8,000 out of 17,000 full-time employees.
Mr. John Rafferty: Yes, and as I look at this list of things and the
direction you're going in, it looks the Commissionaires organization
is going to be quite aggressive as they move forward into the more
traditional policing sorts of areas. I'm looking at things like 911
dispatch and those sorts of things that require particular skills.
Is there a minimum number of veterans on a percentage basis that
you want to maintain, though, in your organization? Because I think
that's certainly worthy, the work that you do, and the support that
you provide veterans, but I wonder, as things become more
specialized—you know, not chasing guys who are parked wrong
at the airport—and as things change, is there going to be a bit of a
struggle to ensure that you have veterans and that you keep the
percentage up?
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: That is exactly one of the reasons why
we want to do more in terms of alternative service delivery for police
agencies and the so-called non-core policing. Because in many
cases.... The 911 dispatch, which we do, does require certain skill
sets, specific skill sets, and often, if not all the time, has a job rate
that is a little higher than it is for your standard security, your private
security guard. We want to get into this business more in order to
attract more veterans.
The veterans today, as Doug pointed out, are younger when they
come out of the forces. Seventy per cent of them have no pension,
but they're not always interested in a lower-paying job, a job that is
not challenging or does not use their skills. By exploring other job
opportunities, and also by, in the past, developing new business
lines, we've been able to attract the newer veterans. This is sort of a
recruiting campaign at the same time.
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: Some are.
Mr. John Rafferty: Or is a bit of an education, a bit of a struggle?
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: Yes, it is a big education. In fact, the
onus is on us to do that. Some are more open than others. We might
have been seen as a threat to their workforce in the past in some
quarters within their organization, but we have made some headway.
Police agencies or municipalities have used the opportunity to
launch pilot projects, not only to see if this would work, but also to
see if it would bring benefits or be more efficient.
I'm thinking about Sault Ste. Marie, for example. Three years ago,
they decided to look at an ASD approach to do their parking
enforcement. They came to us and hired us. In fact, about a month
ago, I was reading their yearly report of this pilot project, which was
presented to city council. It is a good success story.
Mr. John Rafferty: Was there an indication of how much money
they saved?
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: Yes, it was $500,000 a year.
Mr. John Rafferty: Using your service.
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: Yes. In terms of percentages, it's about
Mr. John Rafferty: Okay. Good.
I don't know how much time I have left, but perhaps you can make
some more comments about the guards and matron program,
particularly with your reference to aboriginal populations or remote
populations. I wonder if you could just expand on that a little bit.
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: The guards and matrons program is from
Manitoba west, which we do under a competitive contract. It's to
provide jail guard services on a part-time basis, because there's no
need for full time all the time in many communities. But it's all north
of 60...and south as well; Doug will expand a tiny little bit on this.
Basically, the RCMP detachment will select the person to be
hired. We do the HR process, the hiring process, the payroll and all
of that, the administration of it, and they provide the training. It is
local employment provided to aboriginal people.
Can you expand, Doug, a little bit?
● (1025)
Col Douglas Briscoe: I think this is another area where we can
work in conjunction with a police force to enable them to get on with
the other core policing activities they have, such as crime prevention.
May 7, 2013
I think this has been an amazingly successful program, with the
RCMP identifying selected individuals in these communities and
giving them the training, and us taking care off all the back-end
Mr. John Rafferty: I'm curious, why just Manitoba west? We
have a new consolidated courthouse going up in Thunder Bay,
federal and provincial, and it might be a good opportunity for
commissionaires to be there.
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: In the Atlantic provinces, the program
does not exist yet. However, we are in communication with the
RCMP to see if we can do it there the same way as in Manitoba west.
In Ontario, such a program does not exist.
Mr. John Rafferty: Okay. Thanks.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We'll move to Mr. Leef, please, for seven minutes.
Mr. Ryan Leef (Yukon, CPC): Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to both our witnesses.
Do you have a breakdown now of your per-officer costs for
training, uniforming, other services, in comparison with...? We've
heard figures on the cost per officer to equip, train, and put them in
the field for policing services. Do you have that breakdown?
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: I don't have the details here, but I can
give you some information. We'll gladly provide more details.
For example, to uniform one of our guards, it's about $500 to start,
and about $150 year after year.
In terms of licence costs, in most cases that's paid fifty-fifty. It's
about $45 a year to operate as a security guard.
Now, for training, ongoing training, our basic course is nine days.
In most cases this is relatively economical, because they're not an
employee yet, but for courses after that, the guards will be paid for it.
We have a number of courses that range in length from four days to
ten days, so it is fairly substantial.
Within the private security market, we certainly train more. I
mean, honestly, truthfully, you cannot really compare the Corps of
Commissionaires with any of our competitors in terms of training
and all the programs we have.
As for putting a price tag on that, an exact price tag, I don't have
that with me.
Mr. Ryan Leef: Many of your employees would already come
into the Corps of Commissionaires with a pretty substantial training
history, in some cases.
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: In some cases, but in other cases not.
As I said, we have a workforce of five generations. We have the
19- and 20-year-old kids, and when I say “kids”, I mean young
adults who are in their last year of college, in police foundations
studying to become a police officer, or at university, especially in the
summer. We hire a lot of them part time.
They know zero about security when they come to us. They're
starting their work lives. We're there to develop their leadership and
management skills as well.
With a more seasoned employee, it doesn't have to be a veteran
from the military; it can be a veteran from a police service agency, or
someone who was in the banking world or some other walk of life.
Col Douglas Briscoe: I would just add one other thing. We are
Canadian General Standards Board compliant in our courses, and we
also monitor and audit our training using ISO 9001:2008, so there's a
cost associated with those two elements as well in training our
people for the workforce.
● (1030)
Mr. Ryan Leef: Thank you.
Are there any roadblocks? You're talking about moving into that
sort of non-core policing business, and I know you're undertaking
that in certain areas. Are there any barriers that are sort of stopping
you from really exploding onto that market with policing? If so, are
they legislative? Are they cost issues? Is it just a matter of breaking
down some of the barriers with police services that may not want to
transition over to that change?
If there are barriers, do you have any recommendations for the
committee that we could be involved in to help transition these
things or to make it easier to deploy some of the more economical
strategies and overcome some of the barriers that you might be able
to articulate for us?
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: There are a few barriers. I can think of
probably two major ones.
One is the image that private security has projected in the past.
Keep in mind that up until recently our industry was not regulated in
all quarters of the country. If it was, it was not really enforced very
well. We have made a lot of headway. When I say “we”, the
provinces have made a lot of headway. It's not as comprehensive as I
and the corps would like yet. There's not enough enforcement. The
industry has certainly started to shake things up and it is now
producing a much better guard out there. The image we have
projected is one that we are addressing as well to demonstrate to
police service agencies and police service boards that we have
changed and we have evolved.
Another barrier—I'll be very honest with you—is that certainly
police associations certainly will see us as a threat, because instead
of thinking of us as a complement to the police service agencies,
they see us as taking jobs away from them. This is not the intention
at all of private security. We are not police officers. We will never be
police officers, but we certainly can help ease the work burden—
never mind the financial burden—that police agencies are under. If
we can do that, they may be better able to redistribute some of their
officers, some of their workforce, in areas where they don't have
enough. I'm thinking about cybercrime and organized crime. Police
agencies would love to have more resources. If we do a bunch of
less-demanding jobs for them, they will be able to refocus.
So there are two major barriers, but change is always a threat, of
course, in any organization.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We'll go to Mr. Scarpaleggia, please.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Thank you, Captain Guindon and
Colonel Briscoe.
Just to carry on with Mr. Leef's line of questioning, there are areas
where you feel you could relieve the municipal police forces of
certain duties and, therefore, free up their resources to do other
things like investigating cybercrime and so on. Maybe you've
mentioned this already, but could you just name some specific tasks
for which you feel this could be done? I imagine there are many,
because at one point I think you said that commissionaires do 60
separate functions across Canada, so I'm wondering what some of
those areas would be in which you could step in for the local police.
Also, I'm just curious. You said that if a veteran comes to you and
wants to be a commissionaire, it's almost certain there will be room
for them. Did I misunderstand that?
● (1035)
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: No, you didn't. As long as they can be
employed and they meet our criteria of a clean criminal background
and a few other things, yes.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: That's wonderful, because I've known
some veterans who are quite young and who, for various reasons, are
having trouble getting gainful employment. I think you provide an
extremely important service by allowing veterans who may be at
loose ends to find steady, gainful employment that then allows them
to build up a record of employment and that may allow them to
pursue other career avenues as well. I think that's wonderful.
As you know, in many communities, we see that in addition to the
police they have private security companies that operate cars and
may respond to alarms that go off, sometimes accidentally, in
people's homes during the day and so on. Are the Commissionaires
involved in that kind of service as well? Do you provide security
patrols for certain communities in Canada?
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: We do provide mobile security patrols
and mobile alarm responses, mostly to our clients, but we also have a
Homewatch program. We do some of that, but we're not big in that
sector. There are a few companies who are very, very big.
Yes, we do that. Here in Ottawa, you may have seen our cars on
the road. We respond to about 1,500 alarms a month, and we have a
bunch of mobile patrols. In fact, we're just starting to patrol all the
bridges from here to Gatineau. It's the same thing in Pembroke.
So yes, we do all kinds of weird things, but to go back to your
original statement, you asked us for a few examples of what we
could do. The list is exhaustive, but I'll give you what I think is a
prime example: crime scene security. When there's a crime at a house
or building, in order for the investigation to take place, the area has
to be secure. There's the yellow tape that you see across the
premises, but there's also a watch that has to be there to make sure
that anybody who's not allowed to enter the facility or the premises
doesn't cross the line.
Well, number one, I'm not sure that having up to three or four very
well-trained police officers and three or four police cars watching
and making sure that nobody crosses that line is a police duty, which
police officers don't really like to do—and they've told me that—
and, number two, you pay premium dollars for that officer to be
This fits perfectly with private security. That's what we do. That's
one of our core expertise. That is an example.
May 7, 2013
Yes, at the end of our testimony, there's a list of things that we do
across the country, but it's spotty, of course. It's not huge. We want to
expand it.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Have you approached a municipal or
any police force suggesting that you could do crime scene security or
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: We have, but now we're putting in a
program such that we will coordinate our approach nationally as well
as locally. We've realized that we can do a lot more for our veterans
by going into this line of business and also do a lot more for police
agencies to provide better security of our people as well.
● (1040)
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: What has the response been from
police forces to your idea that you could provide security at crime
scenes? Have you had any reaction yet?
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: In some quarters it's positive and they're
open to discussing it. In some quarters, which I know very well, it
has taken two to three years to get the dialogue going. In other parts,
it's a sheer necessity, and they're saying that they can no longer do
this and are asking what we could do. So yes, it is improving, but we
have a lot of work to do.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Excellent. Thank you.
That's fine.
The Chair: All right.
We'll now move to Madame Michaud.
Ms. Élaine Michaud (Portneuf—Jacques-Cartier, NDP):
Thank you, Mr. Chair.
I'd like to thank our witnesses for joining us today. I, too, want to
commend them for their efforts, that is, offering our young and not
so young veterans opportunities once they've finished their service.
We're seeing younger and younger veterans coming back from
places like Afghanistan suffering from what can be serious problems
as a result of traumatic experiences. You give them an opportunity to
work. Within your organization, though, do those individuals who
are dealing with difficult circumstances—post-traumatic stress
syndrome comes to mind—receive any support?
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: Thank you.
That's a great question. I wasn't sure how I would be able to raise
that point. So thank you for asking about it.
For the past four years, we've been supporting certain government
programs. Fours years ago, we signed an agreement in principle with
the Department of National Defence in order to formalize an
approach that was already being used. Allow me to explain.
As you know, post-traumatic stress syndrome doesn't affect just
soldiers who fought in Afghanistan. And it affects more than just an
individual's mental health. It takes a physical toll as well.
May 7, 2013
We have one program where the Department of National Defence
sends us members of the military who are still part of the forces.
They come to us to re-adapt to the work environment. Some are
transitioning, meaning they plan to move to the civilian world.
Others come to us for a certain period of time, after which they
resume military life. That's one of the three or four programs we
Ms. Élaine Michaud: Support is offered to those veterans.
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: Absolutely.
Ms. Élaine Michaud: That's good to hear.
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: Is it accessed enough? Unfortunately, we
don't believe so. We wish more people would access that support.
Ms. Élaine Michaud: I agree entirely.
On the subject of gender representation in the corps of
commissionaires, could you give me an idea as to the percentage
of women you have in your workforce? I'd also like to know whether
you are doing anything to actively recruit more women.
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: As one of the government's major
suppliers, we are required to participate in the employment equity
program. And we've been part of that for about three years now. It's
fairly recent, so we do have programs. Right now, the percentage is
To the question about active recruiting, it is indeed something we
do, and it comes under the employment equity program. Our
recruiting program is consistent with the government's policies. We
are an employer and, as I mentioned earlier, our employees span five
generations, both men and women. It makes no difference to us.
In our workforce, at the office, the percentage of female managers
is about 55%.
Our director of human resources just hired someone in the
distance education section, and yesterday I said to her, “Pat, you
hired another woman”.
So in our office, the women in our workforce make up about 55%
of our managers.
Ms. Élaine Michaud: Very well.
That's in management, but what are the percentages for the other
parts of your organization? What about security guards, for
● (1045)
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: It's 27%.
Ms. Élaine Michaud: Would you be able to send us in writing the
breakdown of the percentage of women in your organization by
position? I'm curious to see those numbers.
You cited a number of examples in administration, but I'd like to
know what the numbers are in the field.
Capt(N) Paul Guindon: It's 27% and that's across all positions.
In Petawawa, for example, we have a woman who is in charge of
135 commissionaires, men and women. And most of our people
there are men because a lot of them are veterans. So in that case, the
ratio of women is a bit lower.
We'll see what we can do. We provide that information to the
human resources people as part of the employment equity program.
Perhaps we could use those figures.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
Our time, unfortunately, is up. We do appreciate your appearing
before our committee today. I think you've given us some good ideas
as to what you do and maybe how some of those responsibilities can
be enlarged. We do thank you for appearing here, and we encourage
you to keep up the good work that you do.
Folks, we are going to adjourn. We will see you Thursday. There
will be an agenda out once we understand exactly who all will be
able to appear on Thursday for the new study that we're doing.
The meeting is adjourned.
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