Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security Tuesday, April 30, 2013 Chair

Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security Tuesday, April 30, 2013 Chair
Standing Committee on Public Safety and
National Security
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Mr. Kevin Sorenson
Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
● (0845)
The Chair (Mr. Kevin Sorenson (Crowfoot, CPC)): Good
morning, everyone. This is meeting number 83 of the Standing
Committee on Public Safety and National Security, on Tuesday,
April 30, 2013. We are continuing our study on the economics of
policing in Canada.
On our first panel today, we welcome Deputy Commissioner
Doug Lang, from the RCMP's contract and aboriginal policing
division, and Inspector Tyler Bates, the RCMP's director of national
aboriginal policing and crime prevention services.
Our committee wants to thank all of you, and indeed all of the
RCMP. It seems every time we've put out the call for you to come,
you have complied. We appreciate that.
As you know, the RCMP's contract and policing services has
jurisdiction for over 70% of Canada, including eight provinces, three
territories, approximately 150 municipalities, and four international
airports. In many remote locations the RCMP are often the only
government representatives in a particular area and take on the role
of social worker, mental health professional, substance abuse
counsellor, and a host of other roles, including our traditional role
of law enforcement.
The RCMP also represents the only formal presence that oversees
an ever-expanding international interest in the Arctic, and often has
sometimes sole responsibility for Canada's sovereignty in the north.
This is particularly evident nowadays where international tourism is
expanding into Canada's north, for example, cruise ships and the
associated impact this has on policing in the far north.
I would invite you to make your opening statements. If you would
field questions after that, we would be very appreciative.
Deputy Commissioner Doug Lang (Deputy Commissioner,
Contract and Aboriginal Policing, Royal Canadian Mounted
Police): Good morning, Mr. Chairperson and honourable members
of the committee.
As noted, my name is Doug Lang. I am the RCMP's deputy
commissioner of contract and aboriginal policing. That's the uniform
branch, I say, of the RCMP.
With me today is Inspector Tyler Bates. He is actually a
superintendent now, but promotions take a little while to catch up
to us. He's in charge of our national aboriginal policing and crime
prevention program.
Sitting in the back is Assistant Commissioner Janice Armstrong.
Janice came down to watch the proceedings today, and I hope you
don't mind. Unfortunately—or fortunately, for me—I'm retiring at
the end of May. Janice is coming in behind me as the assistant
commissioner of contract and aboriginal policing. This gives her a
great opportunity to come and watch committee action in progress.
The Chair: She's welcome to take a chair at the table too, if she
D/Commr Doug Lang: Thank you for inviting me today to
discuss the RCMP's contributions to contract and aboriginal
policing, and policing in the north. I would like to take this
opportunity to provide the members of the committee with some
context of the challenges of policing rural and northern parts of the
The RCMP is unique in that we provide policing services in
diverse locations, from municipal detachments with hundreds of
officers to small, rural, or isolated detachments with as few as two
In many rural locations government housing is provided and the
cost of housing is astronomical. For example, recent expenditures for
government accommodation in Rankin Inlet for a modular home was
$600,000. A duplex recently built in Cross Lake, Manitoba was just
under $1 million.
Members must remain available to respond to emergencies 24
hours a day. When we have members away on mandatory training or
annual leave from a particular RCMP unit, the RCMP must maintain
a minimum complement of two members in the community to
respond to calls for service. A two-person detachment must then
draw on relief from within the division, from a neighbouring
division, or through the RCMP reservist program, which I will touch
on later.
There are many isolated detachments hours away from additional
backup and they're accessible only by air. Without an on-site police
presence, they're policed via fly-in patrols.
As I mentioned earlier, an additional challenge facing the north is
ensuring our members remain qualified in the various training and
intervention options that we are required to employ. Most of our
tools and skills require annual recertification. These include our
incident management and intervention model, which is our use of
force model; annual firearms qualifications; chemical, biological,
radiological, and nuclear response training; and in the near future,
patrol carbine training as we roll out a new weapon in our firearms
Other challenges include the necessity to bring members from the
north to the south, where there are training centres to receive the
training. This creates both financial and human resource pressures on
those divisions. We have additional challenges in online training as
there's a very slow bandwidth in the north. Rolling out online
training created a significant drain on members' time. We have
explored other options to mitigate these challenges. We have
recently placed training material on CDs for our members in
northern detachments that we had provided online in the south.
Where possible, we look for efficiencies by partnering with other
law enforcement agencies for similar training.
The RCMP employs a number of methods to alleviate the
pressures of policing across the country. We have a reservist program
that allows us to hire back our members, or members from other
police departments, to address vacancies and human resource
pressures where gaps exist. These gaps can exist due to retirements,
long-term sick leave, maternity and paternity leaves, during special
events, seasonally, or in emergencies when we do need extra help.
Reservists may be former RCMP officers or peace officers within
other provincial or municipal police agencies. They have the powers,
duties, and responsibilities of regular members when they're called
upon for duty.
In addition to the 29,000 RCMP employees, our service delivery
capability is enhanced through the assistance of thousands of
volunteers, the largest number of volunteers in the Canadian federal
government. The use of volunteers enhances police efficiencies,
responsiveness, and service delivery through their cultural awareness
and community knowledge. These skills increase community
engagement and maximize service delivery. Some of the activities
that our volunteers perform include but are not limited to victims
services, translations, foot and bike patrols, neighbourhood business
and ski watch, home and business security checks, and some block
parent programs.
In terms of aboriginal policing, the RCMP has maintained a rich
and evolving relationship with Canada's aboriginal people over the
course of history, going back to the early days of the North West
Mounted Police in the 1870s. The RCMP first established a
dedicated aboriginal policing directorate in the 1990s, which has
evolved today into our National Aboriginal Policing Services.
More recently the RCMP has identified aboriginal communities as
a strategic priority since 2003. To meet its objectives of safer and
healthier aboriginal communities, the RCMP builds trusting
relationships by partnering and consulting with the aboriginal
communities we serve, in addition to other government organizations such as Public Safety Canada's aboriginal policing directorate
and Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, as well
April 30, 2013
as with non-government organizations such as the Assembly of First
Nations, and the Native Women's Association of Canada.
● (0850)
We have aboriginal policing service units in every division across
Canada. These units are responsible for overseeing, coordinating,
and delivering services under the RCMP's aboriginal police program
and first nations policing policy within aboriginal communities.
Each division's commanding officer retains aboriginal advisers to
provide advice on cultural perspectives on matters pertaining to the
delivery of aboriginal policing services. These advisers also report to
the commissioner, in the form of a committee, to provide guidance
and recommendations relative to national concerns and enhance the
RCMP's ability to contribute to safer and healthier aboriginal
Aboriginal policing service units lead and bring proactive,
culturally competent policing to aboriginal people and the communities in which they serve. They seek to improve relations between
aboriginal people, the RCMP, and the criminal justice system
through strong and effective aboriginal policing initiatives. These
include recruiting, crime reduction and crime prevention strategies,
program development and delivery, and community tripartite
agreement negotiations.
Recognizing that enforcement alone does not address crime
victimization, some of the enhanced service delivery options that the
RCMP employs are our community program officer and the
aboriginal community constable programs. The community program
officer is a bridge between the community and the RCMP. They are
an unarmed non-peace officer function focused exclusively on
community-specific crime prevention, engagement, mobilization,
and crime reduction. Our aboriginal community constable is an
armed and uniformed peace officer at the rank of special constable.
The community constable allows the RCMP to attract, develop,
and retain people with specific linguistic, cultural, and community
skills, so we can tailor our policing services to the identified need
from a specific community. These community constables provide
valuable links to the aboriginal community through their knowledge
of their home community, local language, and local culture. They are
a role model for the youth. They provide the RCMP with an
enhanced culturally and linguistically competent police service for
aboriginal communities, allowing for a stronger relationship built on
trust to be developed between aboriginal communities and the
April 30, 2013
Aboriginal community constables use their unique skills and
experience as members of the community to focus more on proactive
and preventative policing measures. Aboriginal community constables have the training and capacity to provide tactical enforcement
and investigative support to RCMP constables, if required. This
option is being explored for enhanced service delivery within other
diverse cultural communities as well.
These programs that I mentioned do not replace RCMP officers.
They are an enhancement and a complement to our regular members,
permitting those members to focus on core policing functions.
Economics of policing is a complex issue that has cost drivers
from areas that aren't necessarily immediately evident, thus making it
a difficult issue to summarize in just a few minutes.
Ladies and gentlemen, I'd be happy to answer any questions that
you have.
Thank you very much.
● (0855)
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We'll now move to Ms. Bergen, please, for seven minutes.
Ms. Candice Bergen (Portage—Lisgar, CPC): Thank you very
much, Mr. Chair.
Thank you to the witnesses for being here.
Congratulations, Inspector Bates, soon to be...what will your new
title be?
Inspector Tyler Bates (Director, National Aboriginal Policing
and Crime Prevention Services, Royal Canadian Mounted
Police): Superintendent.
Ms. Candice Bergen: Congratulations on that, and congratulations, Deputy Commissioner Lang, on your soon to be retirement.
I'm sure you'll have lots to keep you busy.
It was a very good presentation. Thank you for that.
I think all of us could take a few minutes to go over it again
because there was a lot of information packed into the presentation.
Twenty-three years ago, I lived in Grand Rapids, Manitoba. I lived
on the hydro side, but it was a first nations community and I saw
first-hand what you talked about. The RCMP members played such
an intricate role in the community. In the case at Grand Rapids, it so
happened that one of the individuals lived close by and it was a
natural fit after he got his training to come back to live in the
We hear many times that it is a real struggle for members when
they are posted in remote and northern communities. First of all,
there aren't many amenities. When I lived there, there wasn't a
doctor, or just the general basics we're used to when we live in the
southern parts of our provinces.
We've been talking a lot about the economics of policing, and I
want to get to that as far as efficiencies are concerned. I think it's
good for us to hear the challenges that members face when they have
to leave the comfort of the city or being close to their family, to
being posted in a very remote area where, again, they don't have
amenities. Let's face it: sometimes there are some pretty tough
situations that they're dealing with, and there's not really a reprieve
from it.
Could you talk about that?
D/Commr Doug Lang: I'd be happy to.
One of the key points I wanted to get out today and to share with
you is the awareness of the different cost drivers there are for rural
policing and policing in Canada's north. When you have your greater
discussion about economics of policing, I don't think it's a cookiecutter approach that can be taken to find the one-size-fits-all solution
to the economics of policing. It's very important to understand those
special things that you talked about on the rural side, on the far north
side, that if someone says that you can come up with a 20% or a 30%
cut, how you apply that there.
You're right on. The issues we have are not so much with staffing
the north; it's recruiting and finding members willing to go there. As
many of you may or may not know, we have limited duration posts
all throughout the north—in northern Manitoba, northern Saskatchewan, and in the far north—because we can only keep members
there for a certain amount of time for exactly the reasons you
In some communities, there are no amenities at all, other than us
and a nursing station. We fly members into these communities and
fly them out again, when it's time for them to be relieved. The costs
associated with getting them there are.... They have northern
allowances that are federal government policy, isolated post
allowances, and they're entitled to vacation trips out, all these kind
of things. The housing and building costs for our infrastructure and
detachments in these places are phenomenal. In most of Nunavut, we
are barging in members' supplies to everyone. They have no road
system there at all, so everything has to be barged up and shipped up
to the different communities. You just compound those costs.
I have the numbers here. The average cost for a member in
southern Canada is—
Insp Tyler Bates: We had a difference of about $121,000 versus
D/Commr Doug Lang: When you average out the cost, it's about
$121,000 to keep a member booted in a seat in southern Canada and
then almost double, about $220,000, to do it in the north, with all
those different things tacked on that you have to add for that
We have quite a bit of interest now for members going north into
the far north, into the three territories for rotations. We find that a lot
of younger members are going up there, members just starting
families, and single members. They are willing to go and spend the
time. When they go into these communities, they're on call 24-7, 365
days a year, if they're there that long. There is no rest.
I know there are a couple of former police officers at the table who
know that when you're on call, you just don't sleep like you normally
sleep. You're always listening for something to happen. Members get
tired. They can only do that for so long until they want to get out and
do something else.
I'm not sure if you're aware but in Manitoba we have a rotation
policy called toques before ties. You have to spend some time in a
posting in the north, two or three years, before you can come south
and get a detective job. That's why we say it's with a tie, so you can
do some major crime work or something else. It's an incentive to get
people to go north and do that constant rotation.
We don't need just our young and junior members in the north; we
need people with the investigational skills and some experience to go
up and mentor these people. We are always trying to strike that
balance of finding members who can go up there, who perhaps don't
have children, because schooling in some of these communities is
not what we would expect, or there's no high school. So there are
times in a member's service when he can actually go and spend some
time in the north.
I just came back from a week's trip to Yukon. I got out to Dawson
City and Faro, and met with a number of the members out there. In
some places, we have members who catch the northern fever and
they stay there forever, and others who go and do a rotation out. I
talked to a number of members up there who just love it. They love
the lifestyle. Others go up and do two or three years and then come
out. They do it as a stepping stone to work their way back to
somewhere else in Canada. Boy, when you talk to the guys who are
up there and just love it, the smiles on their faces are amazing.
They're loving what they do every day. They're really committed to
the community. However, it is expensive.
● (0900)
Ms. Candice Bergen: Just so I understand that, you mentioned
the Manitoba program, toques before ties. Are you saying that even
though we were talking about the RCMP, the federal and aboriginal
policing directorate, there are actually provinces that are tailoring
how they use the RCMP in their provinces? Can you explain how
the provinces are having their own programs in terms of, for
example, toques before ties?
D/Commr Doug Lang: I'll explain that a little further.
The commanding officer for Manitoba “D” Division, for example,
is required to figure out his resourcing strategy, how he's going to
move people around and fill the different vacancies. Everybody has
their two- and three-year limited duration postings that they have to
move members in and out of, the Shamattawas and the God's Lake
Narrows of the world, where we keep members for three years max
and we get them out.
The members have volunteered to go into these places, sometimes
with a plan, “Okay, I'll go there, but when I come out, I want to go to
Dauphin,” or “I'll go there and when I come out, I want to go to
Portage,” so they can get into the housing market again, do those
kind of things. The commanding officer is doing all that at one time,
but he's allowed to move within the various programs.
Some people have asked us, “We used to have special constables
and aboriginal community constables years ago, and why are you
April 30, 2013
doing it again?” Because when they got in, they saw the other guys
got to move so why don't they get to move? They'll only stay in these
communities for so long as well in providing the expertise that we
need. It's truly a commanding officer's ability to move all of them
around from aboriginal policing to federal policing, to keep members
interested and challenged.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We'll move to Mr. Rafferty, please.
Mr. John Rafferty (Thunder Bay—Rainy River, NDP): Thank
you very much, Chair.
Thanks to all three of you for being here today.
I have some experience living in communities with RCMP in the
far north, in Yellowknife and Rankin Inlet years ago. There certainly
was a lineup at that time for people to make that rotation.
Over the years, say the last decade or so, have you kept officers in
isolated communities longer to help save money? Is that one of the
strategies you've used to not have so much movement?
D/Commr Doug Lang: Yes. In a number of areas we are down on
our number of two-year limited duration posts. Most of them are up
to three years. I can think of only some that have very few amenities
in them that we keep members in for two years or less. We've tried to
go to three.
We don't have very many two-member detachments left, so at a
three-member detachment, if one person goes every year, you
manage to keep some continuity, and it's continuity costs, the whole
nine yards.
Mr. John Rafferty: You police in a number of provinces where
you're side by side with first nations police services.
How would you describe the RCMP's relationship in general with
first nations police services?
D/Commr Doug Lang: In general it's very good. I can't think of
an example that jumps to the top of my head. We have the same
infrastructure and training issues. If we're putting on our annual
qualification shoots for firearms and stuff, we'll invite whoever's
around the area to come and do that. In fact, I can't think in the recent
past of battles we've had between organizations.
April 30, 2013
● (0905)
Mr. John Rafferty: I wasn't thinking of battles in particular. What
I was getting at was using precious RCMP resources to help
complement the work first nations police services are doing. In other
words, I know in northern Ontario, for example, the OPP gets called
on a lot to pick up deficiencies, if that's the right word, in the first
nations police services.
Do you find the same thing in your work?
D/Commr Doug Lang: Yes. We do go in and handle the sensitive
files. If we get called in to handle a murder investigation, we'll go on
the ground for a request to do that.
I think where there is a rub sometimes is when we have a standalone aboriginal police service providing service in a certain area,
and then it somehow folds or diminishes to a point where they're
unable to provide the level of service. We have no flexibility because
we've lost our infrastructure, the housing and whatever, to go in and
do that backup.
Mr. John Rafferty: Are you suggesting that if first nations police
services were resourced to the extent they need to be resourced—and
we'll be hearing in the second hour from a first nations police service
that is very under-resourced—it would, in fact, save you money and
the use of your resources and officers?
D/Commr Doug Lang: Yes, it would save us money not having
to go in to back them up on short notice. We have to pull people
from somewhere else to do that, and that becomes a problem.
Mr. John Rafferty: I was interested in your increasing cost of
infrastructure. How do you decide on the priorities on infrastructure
and spending within the RCMP? You're probably always looking for
efficiencies somewhere, but that must be a cost that's certainly in the
back of managers' minds all the time when it comes to covering the
entire country, in effect.
D/Commr Doug Lang: I can speak to that a little bit, but it
probably would be better to have someone from contract policing
services directorate and public safety speak to the new contract.
Our new policing services contract that was signed last year has a
whole new section on replacement of the infrastructure. Where the
old model was kind of pay as you go, and Canada owns all the
buildings except for municipal ones, the new contract has the
provinces and territories sitting down and developing a replacement
plan right up front, and deciding how much they are going to put into
the replacement.
I think our average detachment right now is 30 years old, so we
are on the replacement end of a number of these things, and houses.
Mr. John Rafferty: So far is that working?
D/Commr Doug Lang: No. There's a big investment that has to
go into that now. Each province and territory is a little bit different. I
think there are three or four different models on the accommodation
program, how they're going to do it. Some are paying more up front
now; some are stretching it out over the 20 years of the contract, but
with an idea of replacing a detachment every five years on average,
so we lower that number.
Mr. John Rafferty: I was curious about your comments about
broadband. We've heard that before, certainly in isolated areas. I live
30 minutes from Thunder Bay and I don't have any Internet. It's not
just far north isolated areas we're talking about.
What needs to be done in relation to that kind of technology to
make the RCMP's job easier and safer, and to do the crime work and
police work you need to do? Would you be saving money if
broadband were there, if we're just going to talk about money, for
D/Commr Doug Lang: I believe so, but it's a much bigger picture
than that for us. We have radio systems that need replacing in a
number of the provinces and territories across Canada. That's another
line on the budget sheet that somebody has to address one day. The
Internet and the broadband issues in a detachment affect the way we
roll things out. We've come up with the solution that people shouldn't
just develop these things thinking everybody has high-speed
Internet. Now that we have our training people thinking that way,
they're developing a second option, a CD option, for us. Our
problem in most of these communities is that we have satellite
communication that not only runs the Internet in our office, but also
our Internet for the CPIC system, our file management system, and
all those kinds of things. If you have a member sitting in the
detachment using the computer for an online course, the guy next to
him can't do a query to see if somebody has a criminal record.
Mr. John Rafferty: My time is limited so I want to move over to
volunteers and auxiliary, which you mentioned briefly in your
opening remarks.
Is there a line that you won't cross in terms of using that kind of
staff allotment in replacing officers? Is there a cut-and-dried point
where you won't use them? There might be pressure to use auxiliary
or volunteers for something, but in some cases you would say that
you need an officer.
● (0910)
The Chair: A very quick response, please.
D/Commr Doug Lang: We will not put a volunteer in the line of
danger. We will use auxiliaries and volunteers for some kinds of
traffic control and scene control, but we would never put them in a
position where they would be brought near some kind of threat.
The Chair: We'll go to Mr. Hawn.
Hon. Laurie Hawn (Edmonton Centre, CPC): Thank you, Mr.
Chair, and my thanks to the deputy commissioner, and almost
superintendent Tyler Bates for being here.
I have spent a little bit of time in the north in places like
Yellowknife, Inuvik, and Iqaluit, and have interacted with some of
your folks. It is a challenging environment and I really admire the
work that you guys do.
It's not their role to be involved in policing, but do you have any
coordination with the Canadian Rangers in any of your work? They
have some training that might be of assistance from time to time.
D/Commr Doug Lang: Yes, we call on them for backup
response, search and rescue activities, and other things of that kind in
the north. They like to volunteer their services. As you know,
sometimes that's not a good thing. It's supposed to come the other
way around. They're a great asset to us.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: There are a lot of unique challenges in the
north, but the front end is relatively simple. When you get somebody
you need to process through the system, what special challenges do
you have in the north with respect to the justice system, judges,
courts, and so on? How do you deal with those?
D/Commr Doug Lang: There are two of which I'm acutely
One is our ability to keep up with feeding the criminal record
system in Ottawa. We've changed from a system of paper-based
fingerprint submissions on a criminal record, where if you went to
court and were convicted of something we'd have to type out at the
bottom of your fingerprints what you're convicted of, put that in the
mail, send it to Ottawa, and it would work its way through the
system. Now we're going to digital-based Livescan machines, where
it's done electronically and fed into the system electronically.
Unfortunately these machines cost about $50,000 a piece, and we
can't afford to put one in a three-person detachment that's going to
have five or six fingerprint submissions over the course of a year to
send in. We've coordinated that centrally in Whitehorse, Yellowknife, and Iqaluit. The outlying detachment sends those things into
the centre and then they're sent electronically to Ottawa. That causes
a little bit of a delay. I've had some discussions with public
prosecutions in the last month or so on how we can speed that up. It
seems that the regular repeat offenders are getting into the system
again before their criminal records catch up with them. We're
working on that one and we believe we have a solution.
The other one is the court requirements. I think you heard about it
from Chief Knecht from Edmonton when he was here. We have
court requirements for our members to attend. They show up in court
only to have the accused not show up. We have video facilities in the
north for video appearances, video bail hearings, etc., but when it's
not used or when it's used improperly, or not taken advantage of, or
there are games played with it, problems are caused for the whole
system. We can have no members in court waiting on such and such
a hearing, but if the defence counsel says he wants to wait and see
the whites of all the witnesses' eyes before he decides to plead guilty
or not, it's a problem. But it's part of the system.
I don't know what more can be done to push or facilitate that. The
system is in place. We try to use it. We used it successfully in
Manitoba when I was there, and it saved a lot on bail hearings and
show cause hearings.
April 30, 2013
If witnesses come down to the south for whatever reason and we
have to haul them back north, the cost to Canada is huge, especially
if we're hauling witnesses around for trials that never materialize.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: Thank you.
What's the difference, grosso modo, in the level of training for
your aboriginal community constable relative to a regular force
Insp Tyler Bates: It's a 21-week program. It's only a few weeks
shy of the full training for an RM.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: Is this done in Regina?
Insp Tyler Bates: It is done in Regina, yes.
It's a specialty really. It's a focus on community engagement and
crime prevention.
As was mentioned, they do have the tactical capacity to support
our membership. They receive all the same firearms training, and all
the same police operations training, as far as motor vehicles are
concerned. They're highly trained and highly skilled, but they have a
cultural competence that we need in service in our aboriginal
● (0915)
Hon. Laurie Hawn: Do they have full authority just like any
other member?
Insp Tyler Bates: That's correct. The portion of the training that
they don't complete has to do with the paper aspect of the job, core
package completion, search warrant completion, and the like.
The intent is that they're visible in the community, that they're not
sitting at a terminal with a slow line speed trying to get all the data
entered into our records management system. They're on the road
and they're visible. They're engaging with youth, participating in
cadet corps and activities such as those.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: Do you have a pure number or percentage of
how many of these community constables there are in the north, as a
percentage of the total force?
Insp Tyler Bates: We're in the infancy of this program right now.
It's a pilot project, and at this juncture we actually only have six
aboriginal community constables. We're now in the process of
recruitment for our second phase of this pilot. Being that the pilot
group is as small as it is, we still have to undertake an assessment of
that program, subsequent to the second troop.
We're looking at a fall troop in October, and we're in the process of
recruitment for that. We're anticipating that this troop will be
significantly larger than the first. Subsequent to that, we'll hopefully
be able to undertake an assessment of its value.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: Are they trained as a separate troop in
Regina? Is some of the training integrated with other troops, or is it
all troop by troop?
April 30, 2013
Insp Tyler Bates: They are a separate troop; they're a distinct
troop, but certainly a number of their training components have no
variance from what a regular member goes through.
Hon. Laurie Hawn: It's probably too early to say because of the
infancy of the program, but is there any estimate of the cost of one of
those community constables versus the cost of a regular force
D/Commr Doug Lang: That's a great question, because in terms
of the savings that we saw from this from the start there's about a
$12,000 difference in salary between an aboriginal community
constable and regular constable, so there was a savings there. We
hired directly from the community. We looked to pull Laurie out of
community X, and then put him back into community X where he
already had a house, where he already some....
We don't have extra infrastructure in these communities. That's
why it takes us so long to move ahead. We can't build a house on
It was great for us. We got seven—I think we started with seven—
people back into communities where we needed linguistic capability
and cultural sensitivity in there, where they already had their own
The things we're learning as we move forward is that now they're
saying, “Where's my house?” They get all the other benefits that
come with being an RCMP member, but they're already starting to
ask some of those questions, and they're asking how long they have
to do this before they get a chance to become a regular Mountie guy.
We're changing the program a little bit in the next little while to
change it from an aboriginal community constable focus to just a
community constable focus. We have some other communities in
Canada, in the Lower Mainland for example, where they want to get
their culturally competent person with linguistic capability back in to
stay there for a while.
The Chair: Thank you very much. We're out of time here.
Mr. Scarpaleggia, please. You have seven minutes.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia (Lac-Saint-Louis, Lib.): I would like
to get an overview, because there are many different concepts that
have been discussed, such as the first nations police force, and the
volunteer and auxiliary members.
Does every community have at least one RCMP officer? Or would
every division in the north, which could comprise more than one
community, have a regular RCMP officer in place? In some cases do
they instead have a first nations police constable or some other type
of constable? Is that how it works?
Could you just give me an idea, a broad-brush structural view of
how all of this works?
D/Commr Doug Lang: When we think about economics of
policing and whether we can make any drastic change, we have to
look at the model. The model for policing in rural Canada right now
is that we have a detachment that services an area. We may have a
detachment in a community of 300 people with three members there,
but we may not have a detachment in another community of 300
people or 400 people. We may police that on a fly-in basis, as
required. It is not always the same.
In the late seventies and early eighties, we went through a
reconfiguring of our detachments in both Manitoba and Saskatchewan, in a number of different areas. There's not all these little
detachments anymore. They're bigger detachments, hubbed more
together, kind of like the OPP. You have more members at one place
who provide service farther apart.
What that does, though, is that it causes expanded response times.
If you were to call the city police in Ottawa to say there's someone at
your door trying to break in, and they said they'd be there in an hour
An hon. member: It would be like coming from Cornwall.
D/Commr Doug Lang: Yes. You're not going to accept that, but
that is a reality for people living in rural Canada.
In a number of detachments where I was, an hour to an hour and a
half to get to a call at one end of your detachment area or the other
was the way it worked.
We do have only two places, I think, in northern Manitoba right
now, where we do a regular rotational fly-in. We fly two members in
and pick the other two up and haul them away. That's because of the
level of violence or the problems that exist in those communities.
But for most of them we have detachments, and if we don't have a
detachment base we have a regular patrol. Sometimes we just have a
patrol cabin.
● (0920)
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Where would auxiliary members
come in? Where would first nations police forces come in?
D/Commr Doug Lang: We have first nations police forces that
have their own jurisdictions on first nations reserves.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: So the RCMP is out of there.
D/Commr Doug Lang: Yes, we're out. We're the neighbouring
detachment. We help them out.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: You help them out, but there's no real
D/Commr Doug Lang: We have auxiliaries come in to help us
when we need help. We have auxiliaries in the far north who are
culturally competent. They want to take our members out, show
them who the elders are. They're in addition to what we do.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: In a community where you would be
an hour and a half away, would you have an auxiliary? Basically
there would be no coverage, really, for the hour and a half or two
hours it would take to get someone there.
D/Commr Doug Lang: In some communities, there's a band
constables program. They have band constables who are kind of like
a night watchman. They're called peacekeepers in Saskatchewan.
They augment the ability of that particular first nation, but it is more
to watch what's going on, to guard their facilities.
In some cases they've been making arrests, which is not popular.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Do they have the power to make
D/Commr Doug Lang: No.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: I guess that's why it's not popular.
D/Commr Doug Lang: They have the same powers that you have
to make a citizen's arrest, so they do have powers to make an arrest.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Yes.
How does it work in Quebec? A community like Chisasibi would
have its own force, I guess, or would it be QPP? That is probably not
a fair question.
You have nothing to say about that.
D/Commr Doug Lang: No.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Okay.
April 30, 2013
Are there efficiencies to be gained without sacrificing coverage
and quality?
● (0925)
The Chair: Very quickly. We're 15 seconds over already.
D/Commr Doug Lang: No.
The Chair: Mr. Garrison.
Is there an RCMP presence in every community that would have a
nursing station? Do the two work together at all?
D/Commr Doug Lang: I couldn't say 100%, but there are some
nursing stations in communities that we police and they only go
there when we go there.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Right. I understand.
Mr. Randall Garrison (Esquimalt—Juan de Fuca, NDP):
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Is it easy or difficult to recruit members of aboriginal communities
to become RCMP officers who would then go back to those
communities to serve?
Insp Tyler Bates: It's a rich cultural experience working in
aboriginal communities. As was alluded to earlier, for the people
who love it, they love it. I spent over 10 years doing isolated police
posts, from manning a dogsled to going on the land to caribou hunt
and going on a trapline. These were wonderful experiences. For most
members who have bounced around and done a lot of northern stints,
it's the most memorable part of their career. There is a certain
segment of the organization for which recruitment isn't difficult to do
that. Whether it's aboriginal members or non-aboriginal members,
people share the desire to have that experience in a lot of respects.
When we look at the title of the divisions, they talk about national
aboriginal policing. Your focus this morning seems to be primarily
on rural and northern policing, whereas a lot of the contact between
the RCMP and aboriginal people would be in urban situations and
off-reserve situations.
It is challenging and you are taxed, and that's the other side of it.
In some of the smaller detachments, you don't often go for a walk
without carrying a radio because the other member in the community
may need you for something. There isn't the downtime that you
might have in a large detachment.
That's why—in fairness to the aboriginal members who are
working, as well as the non-aboriginal members—there needs to be
that ability to work in specialized units when they've experienced
that level of investment and they've been on the ball, so to speak, 247. To do that for an extended period of time, beyond the two or three
years that is expected, one often needs a break and a different
The Chair: There are 30 seconds for the question and answer.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Do you have any suggestions? We're
looking at the costs of policing. How can we make this more costeffective without sacrificing police coverage? Maybe the answer is
to spend more money, get more police coverage, and just say that
we'll have to get the money from somewhere else. We need more
coverage, and we're just going to have to spend more because of the
higher cost of living or what have you.
It sounds to me like there aren't too many efficiencies to be gained
because you've thought of everything. You have the video
conferencing, and so on.
Thank you to both of our witnesses for being here today.
Is that part of your mandate in the divisions that you deal with, or
is yours really more dealing with remote locations and on reserve?
D/Commr Doug Lang: No, it's both. Again, if you look at
Manitoba, for example, Winnipeg City Police has the city of
Winnipeg, and Brandon has the city of Brandon. We end up with all
the rest. Our interaction and where we have first nations policing
units and aboriginal policing unit program positions are on our
reserves and the first nations that we police.
While our aboriginal policing directorate people would be in
Winnipeg managing the program and interacting with elders, chiefs,
and councils that exist in Winnipeg, our focus in the service that we
do is on where we have jurisdiction. I know we have a lot of work
that's being done in Prince George, in Vancouver, and different areas
from where people are and where the headquarters of the different
first nations are that we have interaction with, but our service
delivery is more focused on where we're policing.
Mr. Randall Garrison: I want to go back to the question that was
touched on briefly just a minute ago, on recruitment. In terms of the
overall RCMP police force, how successful has the RCMP been in
the recruitment and retention of aboriginal regular members?
D/Commr Doug Lang: We have right now 1,166 aboriginal men
who have self-identified and 313 aboriginal women. That's about
7.9% of our workforce. The labour market availability says that we
should be at about 4%, so we're doing very well there. The retention
we have for aboriginal members is fantastic. We've increased our
target to 10% for aboriginal members.
April 30, 2013
As Superintendent Bates said, it's very interesting inside of our
organization. We recruit aboriginal people for their specific cultural
and linguistic capabilities in some cases. Then they get in and see the
doors that open to them inside our organization. In my 35 years with
the RCMP, I've had 14 different careers now in the different things
that I've done, one of them doing aboriginal policing in Kamsack,
Saskatchewan and Buffalo Narrows, Saskatchewan. That was a riot.
I loved that stuff.
To open the door to get to an officer level position and to be a
commanding officer or a criminal operations officer, you have to get
out and get into the admin world. You have to try these different
things. For the first time in our organization, we have an aboriginal
commanding officer in the province of Saskatchewan, Russ Mirasty.
We have an aboriginal criminal operations officer in the province of
Saskatchewan, Brenda Butterworth-Carr, who I think has been here
before. We have a Métis commanding officer in the province of
Manitoba, Kevin Brosseau. We're watching them now rise up
through the ranks of the organization and into positions, but it has
been from them following a career path to get what they have to get,
come into headquarters, get a look at the real world down here in
Mr. Randall Garrison: You anticipated the next question. In
terms of senior ranks in the RCMP, what kind of presence is there of
aboriginal Canadians? Are there none beyond the commanding
D/Commr Doug Lang: The commanding officer is assistant
commissioner. We have one of our deputy commissioners, Deputy
Commissioner Dan Dubeau, who is in charge of human relations and
is of Métis ancestry from Bonnyville, Alberta. It's hard to tell,
nowadays. In fact, if Tyler hadn't said anything, I imagine most
people at the table wouldn't have known that Tyler is first nation.
Insp Tyler Bates: I'm Métis from Manitoba.
Mr. Randall Garrison: Thank you.
I want to go back to the question of costs and talk about the
question of demand for service. You've been talking about the rural
and remote locations, the high costs of providing that service, and
the very large amount of demand on the officers in place. You
mentioned it in about the third paragraph of your introduction. You
talked about being the only government representative sometimes.
Can you talk a little bit about what the demand drivers are in those
communities for RCMP services?
● (0930)
D/Commr Doug Lang: This answers the other question that I
never got to answer about whether there are any savings. Fortunately
and unfortunately, the Canada Labour Code and our requirements for
officer safety in the past 10 or 12 years have driven us from the
model that a lot of us in the room would have seen when we were
young: one- or two-man RCMP detachments in certain places and
both the guys were six feet five inches tall, weighed 260 pounds, and
were capable of looking after themselves. That's not there anymore.
We have come to a model of a three-person detachment. If we
were to open a new detachment, we wouldn't open anything less than
a three-person one, because that allows us to always have two people
on the ground for backup. We can't have one person anymore. We
fought that battle occupationally, of not having that kind of backup.
We had members in communities who had been shot up in the past
number of years, people pointing rifles at detachments and houses
and those kinds of things. We can't go back there anymore.
This new reality of having to have a three-person versus a twoperson detachment has changed the way we've responded. We have
people sitting in places who don't have very much to do. People in
the far north get involved in the community doing all kinds of things.
You can imagine in the wintertime there's not a heck of a lot of files
going on. They're not vaccinating dogs anymore. There's no traffic
work for them to do. Their criminal caseload of files to handle is not
We've gone through the migration in the prairie provinces. For
example, when I was in Manitoba we moved people from the quieter
places in the south into the busy places in the north to try to equalize
the Criminal Code caseload that a member carries. That's a continual
thing. Part of it is getting ahead of getting housing in there for extra
members in the communities where the growth is happening and
those kinds of things. It takes a while to catch up.
The Chair: You may want to add some of this to another question
Mr. Leef.
Mr. Ryan Leef (Yukon, CPC): Thank you, Mr. Chair, and thank
you to both of you.
Deputy Commissioner Lang, you mentioned that you were just in
the Yukon, which is the riding I represent. I was wondering if you
would have had an opportunity to see some of the work that's being
done in response to the “Sharing Common Ground” report, the
review of Yukon's police force which Mr. Scarpaleggia talked a little
about, throwing financial resources toward policing. We are talking
about the cost of policing, but one of the costs of policing is
intrinsically tied to the cost of crime. I think of the Yukon as a great
model right now, albeit the review of the police force wasn't done as
an economics of policing exercise. It was done out of some high
profile cases that came about. When I look at what they're
accomplishing, I can't help but think that some of the things they're
doing right now are going to achieve some substantial savings on the
cost of crime end.
The Northern Institute of Social Justice is doing a career
orientation program to recruit women and first nations into policing.
There's the establishment of the Yukon Police Council. The arrest
processing unit now is being taken over by the Yukon government,
so a different level of care is being provided to offenders. The RCMP
aren't having to deal with cell block services in the community of
Whitehorse. They've come up with a specialized unit for a
coordinated response for domestic violence and sexual assault.
Communities are now involved in the selection of commanding
officers who are coming to the communities. I think four of the
communities in the Yukon have undertaken that already. They have
community priorities now being established in their annual
performance plans because some communities were doing well
with that and others weren't, but they are now finding some success
in identifying community priorities. They have a communications
director to develop communications strategies to enhance citizen
engagement, which will ultimately help reduce crime in the
communities. They have a commanding officer's first nation
advisory committee, which is working well with different groups,
women's organizations and first nations organizations.
I was wondering if you had an opportunity to see that in the
works. Maybe you could comment on how you see that working in
the Yukon and how you see that potentially being rolled out in the
rest of Canada, if it's a positive model.
D/Commr Doug Lang: In fact, my visit to the Yukon was eyeopening. I was supposed to go up there for the northern symposium
in the fall and I couldn't make it. I had a ticket I had to use so I got to
go up there and see the things I didn't get to see last year.
I was quite impressed. The changes they've been able to make and
move forward on there, especially on community engagement, are
something else and a model for other people to follow.
April 30, 2013
mom, to say hello and be adopted, but that wasn't going to happen.
It's fantastic stuff.
What do you do up there in a community like Faro, which is kind
of shrinking? You have a detachment there but everybody from the
government on down who I talked to said, “No, this is community
safety, a community pride thing. Don't touch our RCMP detachment.” When we talk about there being room to shrink that perhaps
because the caseload is down, people say, “No, not our detachment.
We want you there. You're part of our community.” If you take away
the three Mounties in the community of Faro, you take away the
power-skating teacher, the hockey coach, and so on. There is some
fantastic stuff going on up there.
● (0935)
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We'll go to Monsieur Rousseau.
You have five minutes.
Mr. Jean Rousseau (Compton—Stanstead, NDP): Thank you
very much, Mr. Chair.
My comment on that, though, is that it was really done with not
much of an increase in funding. There were a couple of bodies that
had to be added to the mix, but it was done with the resource level
they had. If you go in there and ask that commanding officer to make
all those changes and live with a 20% budget cut, he ain't doing any
of them, because there's simply no fat left there to cut any more.
We've talked about the salary dollars that are the big cost user of
our fees. That little piece you have left to do any of those initiativetype things is pretty small, and it takes the whole division getting
together with the aboriginal communities and everybody else to
move these issues forward. But you have to be there, you have to be
at those tables, and you have to be dedicated to doing that.
Thank you very much for being here.
I'll ask you to use your earpiece because I'll be asking the question
in French.
They have a good group of people up there doing that now and
watching that move forward.
I am always impressed when I hear stories about officers who
work in the north, where they have to be more autonomous and
versatile when performing their tasks. My riding, Compton—
Stanstead, is on the border and has different divisions. I have spoken
with officers from my riding who have served in the north. They told
me that the problems up there were like the ones we had here, but
there were 10 times as many of them and they were 10 times worse.
I got to meet with all the auxiliaries. They happened to have an
auxiliary meeting one night when I was there. I got to meet with a
group of five or six auxiliaries and they're all government people,
guys who have boring government jobs with the Government of
Yukon who want to get out on Friday night and drive around with
the boys. They go out and they take charge of the check points
during bicycle runs and dogsled races and those kinds of things.
They're so happy to be involved with the people.
An officer has to be a social worker, a mental health professional
and a substance abuse professional. How do you manage to do all
that with the resources you have, especially when it comes to
training? We are told that online services are not very adapted and
technology is not really an option. How do you ensure that the
officers receive the training and updates they need to be able to deal
with all the social issues they face in the north?
The interaction in the community up there.... If you had told me
about the stuff that went on before the changes, I would not have
believed it. The community up there is so supportive of their law
enforcement. I had to shake hands with half the people in Dawson
Creek when I was there. They were telling me about the great work
these guys are doing.
We've pulled some great people out of there, like Brenda
Butterworth-Carr from Dawson Creek. I tried to go and see her
D/Commr Doug Lang: It's a bit difficult to answer that question.
We are actually unable to meet all the needs in the north. That's the
problem. Our basic training focuses on the responses police officers
must provide as part of their normal duties, such as investigations
and basic interactions with people with mental health issues.
However, it's not the officers' job to resolve those issues or provide
advice on how to get better. Health care professionals have that
responsibility. The problem in almost all northern communities is
that we are the only government representatives present.
April 30, 2013
People can ask me what could be implemented to improve
community life, but it's not up to police officers to do that. That
responsibility belongs to health care professionals—whether we are
talking about psychiatric nurses or people who can care for all the
community members struggling with alcohol or drug addiction.
That's not our role. If all that could be moved from our plate to
someone else's plate, the problem would improve in all northern
communities. However, that's expensive.
Mr. Jean Rousseau: You said that an attempt was being made to
reduce divisions. However, your officers provide community
services at the same time. They may be coaching hockey or
participating in the community in other ways. The existence of those
divisions is extremely important, since the officers are literally part
of the cultural life of the community. So it's key for the divisions to
remain as they are.
There's something else I would like to discuss. You talked about
material resources. Some of your outdated equipment and radios
used for communications need to be replaced. Is there any equipment
that is absolutely necessary in emergency situations that should
really be invested in?
I have an example. My riding is close to lakes Memphremagog
and Champlain. I was told that RCMP officers have been unable to
use their motorboat for two years because they don't have the money
to maintain it. I assume you have similar problems in the north.
● (0940)
D/Commr Doug Lang: Yes, we have the same problems in the
north. Today, in compliance with the Occupational Health and Safety
Code, police forces' needs in terms of material resources and
equipment have increased. That probably began 10 years ago and
has been emphasized in certain circumstances. For instance, since
the Mayerthorpe tragedy, in Alberta, when four RCMP officers were
killed, all our officers have had to wear hard body armour, which is
different from the soft body armour we used before. Another new
piece of equipment is the patrol carbine—which I already talked
about—a firearm that's somewhere between a .308 calibre rifle and a
shotgun. That's a SWAT carbine our officers will be able to use in
school raids where students may have been taken hostage.
When police forces see that other police forces already have that
equipment for their SWAT team or their officers, they want it too. We
have the same problem. In special circumstances—for instance,
when shots are fired at their house—officers serving in the north may
ask to be provided with an armoured home or other equipment. We
know that sad cases like that happen, so we can't be asked to deny
our officers their request.
program. We've also heard from Calgary. Again, it's a very large
urban centre, but a number of agencies have come together and are
working on the preventative side of crime. We've even heard from
rural areas, such as Manitoba's Selkirk, Stonewall, and Dauphin,
where they run something called START. It's initiated out of the
community, but the RCMP plays a role.
I guess here's what I'm asking. I think it's a tough issue and it's not
one that's going to be solved very quickly, but there's a huge
difference between a first nations reserve in northern Manitoba and a
tiny town in southern Manitoba. The population might be the same,
but we know a very, very different way of living. I know that when I
lived on a reserve getting parents to come to parent-teacher
interviews was virtually impossible. There was a disengagement
for many, many reasons. We know that there are a lot of reasons for
some of the disengagement.
I'm wondering, though, because it has been a while since I lived
on a reserve—and Superintendent Bates, I think you mentioned that
you were policing up north, and you really enjoyed it and saw great
value in it—is there an opportunity? Are there first nations
reserves.... I'm thinking especially of northern Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and even Ontario, because we know there are some very
difficult...they're the Shamattawas, and certainly in Quebec.... How
do we use a model like START or HUB and COR, some of these
programs where we are not just involving government agencies, but
where the community comes together and says that it wants to
participate in helping to prevent crime, where the community says,
“We want to take responsibility for our neighbours' kids and for our
kids and do this together”?
Are we seeing some movement in that area? Is this more an issue
of just how tough life is on a reserve and how many times people
are.... Let's face it: again, in a small community in southern
Manitoba, if you want to move to another community, you just
move. If there aren't jobs or opportunities, you move, whereas if
you've lived on a reserve your entire life, there are certainly some
constraints, not just physically but even emotionally: how do you
leave this place and do you want to leave it?
We've heard such great things about these preventative programs.
Do you see any opportunity or a place for them to happen on a
reserve like Shamattawa?
● (0945)
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Lang.
We'll move back to the government side now for the last four
Ms. Candice Bergen: Thanks, Mr. Chair.
In the last few minutes, I want to follow up on a few things that
my colleague, Mr. Rousseau, was asking about.
We've had some really good testimony from, for example, Prince
Albert, where they run something called the HUB and COR
D/Commr Doug Lang: I'll turn this over to Tyler in a second. It's
not that we're not involved with those programs. It used to be Chief
McFee, when I knew him at SACP, and now he's with the
Saskatchewan government. We used to call that, even in Winnipeg,
stepping on a sausage. If the Winnipeg Police Service or the Prince
Albert Police Service step hard on a crime problem in their area, we
know exactly where it goes, right? The meat goes into the sausage
and they come back into RCMP jurisdiction, because we police the
outside. We're involved in these.
That was one of the best things about Dale McFee's HUB concept
in Prince Albert. Once they got it going, and got all the agencies
going in Prince Albert, they involved the RCMP in the rural area.
There was no more putting pressure on the little kid from Buffalo
Narrows, in Prince Albert, and making him go home. That used to be
great crime prevention—isn't that right—send him back home. The
whole loop was there. Even if you sent him back to Buffalo
Narrows, we have people in Buffalo Narrows ready to monitor his
behaviour, to involve the school, so we interacted in those things.
Those tentacles are slowly reaching out. We have a number of
those different HUBs going on in Saskatchewan, in Prince Albert, in
Yorkton, in Saskatoon. The problem is magnified by the city, but we
are involved in a number of those and taking an active part in them.
I'll let Tyler speak to it.
The Chair: We're pretty well right out of time. What I would like
to do, though, is make an offer to you. If you have questions that you
didn't feel you answered to the extent you'd like to, perhaps you
would send the comments in to our clerk. He'll circulate them and
we'll all be able to hear the rest of the answer.
Unfortunately, we have another panel waiting for us, and one of
them is video conferencing, so we can't go over. I know we'd like to
expand this. Aboriginal policing is of great interest, and certainly we
appreciate the RCMP bringing you here to instruct us a little bit
about what happens there, and the challenges. Thank you for doing
We're going to suspend momentarily and we will prepare the
teleconference, and our other guests are here as well.
● (0945)
● (0945)
The Chair: Good morning, again.
This is the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National
Security. We're going to continue our study on the economics of
policing in Canada.
With us here in Ottawa we have Chief Bob Herman, the chief of
the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service. Our committee appreciates your
joining us today, sir.
Also, appearing from the Government of Yukon by video
conference from Whitehorse, we have Robert Riches, assistant
deputy minister, community justice and public safety, Department of
We want to thank both of you for appearing. Perhaps you could
each give an opening statement, and then we will go into rounds of
questioning that we'll take from the government and the opposition.
We'll begin with Chief Herman, who is with us here. The floor is
yours for about 10 minutes.
Chief Robert Herman (Chief of Police, Nishnawbe-Aski Police
Service): Thank you, Mr. Chair and committee members, and
First, I'll give you a little background. The Nishnawbe-Aski Police
Service, or NAPS as it is known, is the largest self-administered first
nation police service in Canada. We police an area basically above
April 30, 2013
the 51st parallel, from the James Bay, Quebec border to Manitoba,
up to Hudson Bay. We police 34 of the Nishnawbe Aski Nation
communities. It's quite an extensive area and certainly has a lot of
I know my time is limited, so I'd like to touch on three issues that
are imperative to first nation policing, especially self-administered
first nation policing.
The first thing I'd like to say is that first nation policing in the
province of Ontario is in a crisis state right now for a number of
reasons. The last negotiated line-by-line budget for first nations
policing was done in 2007-08. This resulted in an agreement for
three years. That agreement was extended for one year and currently
is in a second extension into 2014. That extension was essentially
forced upon the Nishnawbe Aski Nation due to the fact that the
government came out with their funding model about three weeks
prior to the deadline of the extension expiring. Because of that
timeline, there was no opportunity to actually do a negotiation with
the Nishnawbe Aski Nation. The Government of Ontario and
Canada are stipulated in the tri-party agreement. We had to sign the
agreement because as of April 1, if we didn't, there would be no
cashflow. We would not be able to pay our bills, pay our officers,
and continue policing.
There are a number of issues when it comes to sustainable
funding. As I said, the last negotiated line-by-line agreement was
done in 2008, but since then, partly because of the Kashechewan
inquiry.... I must say that Canada and the Province of Ontario have
been good in funding new capital projects for the Nishnawbe Aski
Nation in getting new detachments. We've had 13 new detachments
come on line and we have five more nearing completion, but at the
end of the day, we still have seven detachments that don't meet the
basic standards, such as having a fire suppression system or building
codes within our communities.
Anybody who runs a business knows that when you outlay capital
dollars to build infrastructure, there are yearly operational costs that
are associated with that outlay. We have never received funding to
actually cover those operational costs. For example, the cost of
operations and maintenance of those detachments is about 72%
higher than the rent we were paying in the old buildings we had
before. As well, we had to move because our headquarters building
wasn't meeting our needs. We had people all over the place in
different buildings. In order to consolidate, we had to rent a bigger
building at a 115% greater cost than we paid in the old one. Statutory
increases to things like employee benefits as well as benefit costs
have increased by 31%, almost $400,000. Yet again, we have not
received any increase to our budget since 2008 in order to cover
those costs.
Quite frankly, we've been robbing Peter to pay Paul, but Peter is
not home anymore. We simply can't continue to do this. We are
forecasting a $2 million deficit for the current fiscal year ending in
2014. Essentially, we're going to run out of money probably in
December of this year in order to operate our police service.
April 30, 2013
If both levels of government are serious about first nations
policing succeeding, then they actually have to step up to the plate
and meet their fiduciary obligations and properly fund first nation
I was listening to the statement made by the RCMP. There is a
difference in Ontario. A lot of the agreements with the RCMP are
community/tri-party agreements, where it's an enhancement. In
Ontario it's self-administered police services. There are nine of us in
the first nations policing program. The government does come out
and say it's an enhancement, but the reality is it's a replacement. We
have replaced the traditional policing. The RCMP left in the early
1970s; the OPP left in the 1990s; we've taken it over.
Second, I want to touch on staffing. As I said, there's been no fulltime equivalent increases to first nations policing since 2007. You've
probably heard about the police officer recruitment fund report,
which was a one-time funding by the government. Everyone knew
that going into it. It ended on March 31 of this year, but the way
Ontario actually handled that money was to add 40 new first nations
police officers in the province of Ontario. On March 31 of this year,
those officers were laid off because the funding was not extended.
● (0950)
It has been the position of the first nations chiefs of police and the
leadership in the first nations communities that those 40 positions
should have been rolled into the FNPP to address the full-time
complement that we need to address.
I can tell you that the crime severity index in first nations
communities in Ontario, in the nine communities, is five times the
provincial average. As a matter of fact, the top five in terms of the
crime severity index in the province of Ontario are all in first nations
communities, policed by first nations police officers.
Our officers work alone for extended periods of time. They are the
only person in the community. Many times their backup is a member
of the band council.
I was interested in listening to the RCMP say that they have a
minimum of three officers in the community. I think I would die to
have that luxury.
My officers respond to gun calls on a continual basis. As a matter
of fact, around Christmastime we had a gun call where 114 rounds
were fired. During that call we had two officers. The most senior
officer there had six months on the job. That's normal.
Our incidents of post-traumatic stress disorder are much higher
than those of normal police services because of the working
conditions our officers have to work under. Five years ago, the
Kashechewan coroner's inquest recommended that an operational
review be done of first nations or Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service.
That was over five years ago. That operational review has yet to
happen. Although there is a commitment by the federal government
to actually fund it—that goes back a couple of years—we have
received no funding in order to do that operational review. That
would really go a long way to actually identify what the needs are.
The last area is infrastructure. It can best be illustrated by this
example. We have no radio system, per se. Our radio system is
basically an extension of the phone lines in our remote fly-in
communities. Somebody phones in to the detachment and it's
forwarded to their radio. But the range for those portable radios is
about one kilometre. It's not monitored on a 24-7 basis. There is no
lifeline. If the officers are alone and need backup, they actually have
to dial in a keypad on their radio to get the OPP communications
centre in either Thunder Bay or North Bay.
Quite frankly, that would not meet any health and safety standard,
whether it be federal or provincial legislation, yet we do this on
continual basis. I've been in communities where two officers on a
portable radio couldn't talk to each other when they were a kilometre
away. That's quite normal.
There is a fix for this problem. It's very minimal when you look at
the global budget for the government. It's about $1.5 million. With
the provincial and federal share, we could have the same system that
the OPP have in their three remote fly-in communities. The system
could be monitored by the Ontario Provincial Police.
In summary, I would like people to wrap their minds around the
notion that the self-administered first nations policing program in
Ontario is not an enhancement; it's a replacement. We are much more
efficient. Public Safety Canada has done their own study that shows
we've been able to reduce, for example, violent crime in our
communities by 30%. Our clearance rates are much higher than most
police services throughout Canada, and it's really a communitybased policing program.
The first nations policing program has been a program for 17
years. It's time to change that. There is no legislative framework for
first nations policing. I do know that a number of subcommittees are
actually working on this right now, but it's time to move forward.
As I said, first nations policing in Ontario is in a state of crisis.
That's not an emotional statement; that's a fact. We're going to run
out of money by the end of this year. It will be very interesting to see
what happens at that point.
I can tell you this: the community leadership in the first nations
communities that we police want their own police service. They
want to be policed by their own people. They want the same services
that are afforded to every other citizen in this country. You live in
communities where you get proper and quality police service. That's
something we should be able to afford all the people in this country,
regardless of their race or ancestry.
Meegwetch. Thank you.
● (0955)
The Chair: Thank you very much, Chief Herman.
We were able to re-establish our connection with Whitehorse. We
are very pleased to welcome Mr. Robert Riches, assistant deputy
minister, community justice and public safety, Department of Justice.
Are we coming in loud and clear?
Mr. Ronald MacMillan (Deputy Minister, Department of
Justice, Government of Yukon): Yes, you are, Mr. Chair.
My name is Ron MacMillan. Can you hear me okay?
The Chair: Yes, you're coming in fine. Thank you, Mr.
Do you have an opening statement?
Mr. Ronald MacMillan: I'm going to have Mr. Riches make the
actual presentation, Mr. Chair. He will outline some of the initiatives
we've undertaken through cooperation with the Department of
Justice, RCMP, and other groups in relation to policing.
At the end of that, Robert—or Bob—will also refer to a policing
symposium that we had here last September, which had great
participation from across the country.
I'll call upon Mr. Riches, who is our assistant deputy minister
responsible for policing, to make the presentation.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
Mr. Riches.
Mr. Robert Riches (Assistant Deputy Minister, Community
Justice and Public Safety, Department of Justice, Government of
Yukon): Thank you for the invitation to speak.
In Yukon communities the continuous services delivered by
government and non-government agencies, often in remote and
isolated settings, include nursing, emergency services, social
services, and front-line services. The environments demand the
most from service providers and are in high-visibility, highconsequence environments.
Northern remote communities are also expensive to police. The
cost to territorial government—70% of our dollars—is now upwards
of $200,000 per member. Given the other funding pressures faced by
contract policing jurisdictions, it becomes increasingly challenging
to rationalize and justify new funding for policing initiatives at the
expense of other government programs.
The themes I will touch on in my presentation, which were
reflected in the review of our police force and at the police
symposium last September, reflect the initiatives that improve frontline police service delivery and also improve public confidence. In
certain cases, they serve to contain downstream policing costs.
In April 2010, Yukon launched a review of their police force.
There were very public and negative high-profile incidents at that
time that had caused public confidence in the RCMP to erode and
their role in the public service to be called into question.
I'll speak briefly about the review. The purpose of the review was
to engage the public, the service providers, and the RCMP in
dialogue with the goal of rebuilding trust and addressing the
concerns and arriving at recommendations in order to improve the
quality of policing services in the territory.
The review was co-chaired by the Department of Justice, the
RCMP “M” Division, and the Council of Yukon First Nations. The
co-chairs received guidance from advisory committee members who
represented women's groups, Yukon municipalities, the Government
of Yukon, and RCMP “M” Division.
April 30, 2013
We held over 60 public and targeted meetings and received written
submissions. Several service agencies were engaged to assist clients
to participate. Submissions were brought forward by first nations
leadership, citizens, women's organizations, and other members of
the public.
Yukoners and RCMP members spoke about the unique role the
RCMP have in the community and highlighted the importance of
developing the relationships between police and communities.
Citizens said they wanted the RCMP to understand the culture and
values of the community and to have the knowledge, skills, and
attributes required to police in the north and to work with vulnerable
people in response to domestic violence and sexualized assault.
Citizens said that communication needed improvement. They were
concerned about accountability, the disciplinary process, and
improvements that could be made to help the public better
understand their rights in the complaints process.
We had eight months of dialogue with citizens and submitted a
report to the Minister of Justice. We called the report “Sharing
Common Ground”. It outlines the foundation for establishing a new
relationship between Yukon citizens and the RCMP. It creates a
blueprint for a quality of service that will benefit all Yukon citizens.
The report had 33 recommendations. I'll talk a little about the
progress on some of the recommendations. Communication,
collaboration, and inclusiveness are pillars of the implementation.
Priorities for leadership were established collaboratively by the
Council of Yukon First Nations, the Yukon Department of Justice,
and the RCMP. We've been working together to ensure that progress
is made, and we're working together towards implementation. We
have various partners engaged in implementation, with a range of
specific agencies and service providers and other methods of
implementation related to the individual recommendations.
As a result of the collaboration and commitment to implementation, key changes have been made in our approach to policing. I'll
review some of those changes. We now have the Yukon Police
Council. The council was established in 2012 to provide an
opportunity for citizens to participate and have a role in directing
the police service they receive. The Yukon Police Council is a
unique approach to the involvement of Yukon citizens in shaping a
public service that is important to them when they are most
vulnerable. A key piece of the council's work plan for the initial year
and on an ongoing basis is to develop a process for engaging with
and incorporating community voices into recommendations they
make on Yukon's police service.
In the fall of 2012, the council sought public input into their
recommendations on policing priorities. The council analyzed the
information and recently provided recommendations to the Minister
of Justice. These recommendations were carefully considered and
form the basis of the minister's policing priorities for Yukon. Over
the coming year the council will continue to engage first nations
service providers.
April 30, 2013
A number of initiatives flowing from “Sharing Common Ground”
are working towards providing more effective police service delivery
and seeking to contain or avoid future costs. These include the arrest
processing unit, which is a new model of supervision and facility for
short-term detention of persons taken into RCMP custody, a joint
initiative cost-shared between the Government of Yukon and the
The committee is working together to clarify RCMP policies
relating to dual charging and current RCMP policy and practice
regarding the use of primary aggressor assessment in cases of
domestic violence. The committee has supported the RCMP in
updating manuals on division policy and procedure. It's opened up
lines of communication and coordinated service provision on
specialized teams that are essential to service improvements.
● (1000)
The unfortunate death of Raymond Silverfox in December 2008
highlighted the need for improving how we deal with vulnerable
persons taken into RCMP custody. Through the review of the police
force and in partnership with the RCMP, we examined ways that we
could better provide safe and secure custody, and ensure that we
uphold the duty of care for persons arrested by the RCMP.
The arrest processing unit ensures the highest tentative care and
protection for persons taken into RCMP custody, including acutely
intoxicated persons and other vulnerable clients. The arrest
processing unit is an innovative model that provides on-site medical
assessment and care for RCMP prisoners, as well as supervision by
corrections officers who have specialized training. The arrest
processing unit is joined with the existing Whitehorse Correctional
Centre, which completed construction in 2011.
We're adding a piece to that correctional centre, and while it's
being built we've moved the prisoners from the RCMP into the
Whitehorse Correctional Centre. They're currently housed in the
admissions discharge area. It's an interim approach, but it's already
had positive results in freeing up front-line police members from
supervising prisoners. Now they're back out patrolling the community.
The Alberta Serious Incident Response Team, ASIRT, is another
initiative we've taken. We have an agreement with the Alberta
Serious Incident Response Team, a civilian investigative agency, to
conduct independent investigations of serious incidents involving
RCMP members in Yukon. Independent oversight is key to
increasing public confidence. ASIRT has been called in to carry
out independent investigations of serious incidents, and to review
RCMP internal investigations of less serious incidents. It's added a
strong element of public accountability and confidence to these
investigations overall.
We have a cost-sharing agreement with the RCMP, and we have
an intergovernmental agreement between Yukon and Alberta for this
service. It's a small jurisdiction. We couldn't afford to set up a regime
on our own, but we heard loud and clear from citizens that the
RCMP shouldn't be investigating the RCMP. So we moved forward
on this. The Alberta government was very cooperative, and we
appreciate their help.
We are also working to improve our response to domestic violence
and sexual assault. There is a multi-sector community made up of
representatives from women's organizations, the Yukon government,
the RCMP, the CYFN, and the federal prosecution service. We have
a committee and they work together. Their role is to develop a
comprehensive framework for coordinating Yukon's response to
domestic violence and sexualized assault.
To that end, we've created a specialized response unit. This came
from another recommendation in “Sharing Common Ground”. We've
established a new RCMP unit, a specialized response unit within
“M” Division, to investigate domestic violence and sexualized
The specialized response unit was established and has a mandate
to provide guidance, assistance, and oversight to the detachment
members who are conducting domestic violence and sexual assault
investigations, and to act as lead investigators in instances of
domestic violence and sexual assault where specialized service is
The specialized response unit also identifies training and
divisional needs related to domestic violence and sexual assault.
This training has started to take place in small detachments in the
territory. In a small jurisdiction like ours it's unrealistic to expect that
we could have personnel with specialized skills available at each
detachment, but we recognize the importance of these specialized
skills and additional resources.
This unit is available to detachments, and it provides mentorship
and oversight to improve skills across the division. The unique
element of this initiative is the partnership with the RCMP on
working with an independent evaluator looking at the performance
of the team over time. This is one way we can ensure that this unique
policing response is getting the results that we intended.
We also have community participation on the selection of
detachment commanders. Budgets are limited, but some of the
things that we can do we've done at a minimal cost and demonstrated
a significant shift towards meeting community service needs. For
example, several communities participated in the selection of new
detachment commanders. Working together in this way is helping to
improve communication between citizens, leadership, and the
RCMP. This process is now written into divisional policy and will
occur each time a vacancy for a detachment commander arises.
We've had really positive feedback from first nations and others who
have been involved in this process.
● (1005)
As was mentioned, we acknowledge that our jurisdiction is not
alone in the issues of policing in northern Canada. The dynamics of
policing in this unique environment, the demands, the challenges,
the success stories and innovations, were all explored at a
symposium on policing in northern and remote Canada held in
Whitehorse in September 2012.
The symposium brought together 120 presenters and participants
with an interest in sharing information and raising questions about
policing in northern and remote communities. Our officials attended
this symposium and took part in dialogue about the future of
policing in the north and remote Canada. Unfortunately, it was a
symposium I was not able to attend, but people I work with every
day talked about what they felt at the symposium and how well it
worked. They talked about what attributes and skills we need to see
in our force members, what supports need to be in place for police
officers to carry out their work effectively. They spoke about our
vision for collaborative policing, and it involving environment, and
about innovation in measuring our efforts.
As public agencies, police services rely on evidence-based
programs, policies, and procedures to guide their interventions and
interactions with the communities they serve. Many of these
programs, policies, and procedures have been developed through
research focused on policing large urban centres in Canada and
around the world. But for police agencies working in northern and
remote communities, there's a need to examine policing in this
unique environment, looking at what works and what does not, and
to regularly look more closely at the effectiveness of various models
of service delivery.
Informed decision-making will provide the groundwork for
northern and remote police services to develop appropriate policies
and procedures to guide police work, and to enhance partnerships
with communities.
The symposium also enables us to keep the issue of policing in
northern Canada on the national agenda.
● (1010)
The Chair: If I could interrupt you for a moment. I'm wondering
if you are getting close to the end because there are members here
who want to question you.
Mr. Robert Riches: Yes, certainly. I'm almost there.
With Public Safety Canada, we're now developing an advanced
research agenda of effectiveness and efficiency in policing the north,
service delivery models, community engagement measurement, and
healthy communities.
We examined different models of service delivery, things like
seasonal policing, relief units, community safety, community
program officer pilots, and first nations community policing models.
We're moving beyond the concept of integration, because we're
hoping to move toward an integrated dispatch model for Yukon,
involving the RCMP, EMS, and Wildland Fire Management.
April 30, 2013
First, I want to congratulate you on all the work you've done in the
justice field, Mr. Riches. Of course, this year your being awarded
with the Queen's Diamond Jubilee Medal was well deserved for your
work in Yukon and in B.C. Congratulations on the achievements that
the government has managed to deal with on the “Sharing Common
Ground” report. I've read the update report and I'm really impressed
with how much has been accomplished in a short period of time,
based on that review. We had the deputy commissioner of the RCMP
here, who had been in Yukon a week or so ago. He had glowing
comments about what he saw in the Yukon in terms of the work
you've accomplished.
I want to ask you specifically about the arrest processing unit. You
talked about the higher standard of care that's going on there, and the
joint work with the RCMP on that. At this point—I know it hasn't
been in place a long time—are you able to measure any of the
recidivism rates? When you're sending people out with a higher
quality of care, that in turn should help reduce that revolving door
that the RCMP might have witnessed in terms of releasing prisoners
out of the Whitehorse detachment itself. Have you been able to
measure any of the recidivism rates from that higher standard of care
that you're delivering to the people who are coming through that
arrest processing unit, or is it too early to tell right now?
Mr. Robert Riches: As you said, we've been operating for a short
period of time, so it would be early to talk about that. I think we've
seen some success in some individual citizens who we've been
dealing with for a long time. This is a small town, so you really
notice when there's a change in folks who you usually see on the
street all the time. A couple of our long-term residents who were
frequent visitors to the RCMP station have progressed through the
system. They've been dealt with by our community wellness court
and with our integrated case management approach, and we're seeing
some successes.
As far as actual research, though, I don't have results yet.
Mr. Ryan Leef: Do you have an aim to measure that as this is
● (1015)
I'll leave it at that.
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Riches.
We'll move to another Yukoner, Mr. Leef, please, the member of
Parliament for Yukon
Mr. Robert Riches: Yes. What we're doing is tracking attendance.
We're tracking who the police are bringing to us, how long they are
away from us, and when they are back. Hopefully in a year or so we
should have something to have a look at.
Mr. Ryan Leef: Thank you, Mr. Chair.
Thanks to all our witnesses.
Thank you, Chief Herman.
I'll direct my questions to Mr. Riches.
Mr. Ryan Leef: Can you touch on what work's being done at the
Northern Institute of Social Justice particularly around the career
orientation program and the recruitment of first nations and women?
How do you see that playing out in the future?
April 30, 2013
Mr. Robert Riches: We've had the delivery of one program so far
for persons interested in entering the field of justice with the
Northern Institute of Social Justice. It's a short program for people
who are interested in entering policing. We have targeted the
program towards first nations and women. The first offering had
about a dozen attendees, among whom a couple are pursuing work,
and one has been hired actually in the Department of Justice and is
working in my division.
The NISJ is working with us now and with first nations on
developing cultural competency training for officers working in
communities in Whitehorse. As you know, there are about 14 first
nations in the Yukon with varied cultures and differences between
each of them. This is work that's going on with the NISJ and first
nations through a project that came directly out of “Sharing
Common Ground” and that's funded by the Department of Justice,
but they are working with the CYFN as the coordinators of that
Mr. Ryan Leef: In the Yukon we have the safer communities and
neighbourhoods, SCAN, unit in the legislation. Of course, they don't
have a policing mandate, but the work they do focusing on drug
houses, prostitution, and bootlegging operations must defer some of
the costs of policing. The great work they have been able to achieve
over the years certainly must have resulted in seeing a reduction in
some of the more prolific homes that are involved in drug
Can you comment at all on the cost aspect of how important it is
to have other legislation and other agencies that work in tandem with
the police without necessarily having a policing mandate that can
support crime reduction strategies in the territory?
Mr. Robert Riches: In Yukon we believe SCAN has formed a
really important role in enforcement and the improving of
neighbourhoods. The downtown of Whitehorse had historical
problems with a house that was there for years which the citizens
of downtown had problems with.
This legislation came into force. The officers assigned to that
thing work well. That house no longer operates. It has been torn
down as a matter of fact, and Habitat for Humanity has replaced it
with another home.
We have seen improvement in neighbourhoods throughout the
Yukon. Citizens are pleased with the results and feel that it's a place
they can go to where they are anonymous. Because they are dealing
with a problem in their own neighbourhood, often citizens are afraid
to call the police. They are afraid of the results of that, but they will
give SCAN a call and let them know about activity.
SCAN can then monitor it and take some action in moving those
people out of that neighbourhood and disrupt the criminal activity. I
think it's important to disrupt that activity. Then once the activity is
disrupted, the police are aware of the action, and they can track it and
watch it. There has been real successful cooperation between SCAN
and the RCMP in Yukon. We continue to work together on
investigations. It is a lower cost model for surveillance for sure to
use Yukon government employees than it is to use RCMP members.
It's probably almost one-third the cost.
Mr. Ryan Leef: Thank you very much. I think my time is coming
to a conclusion so I just want to once again congratulate you, Mr.
Riches, on the excellent work you have done in Yukon with the
Department of Justice and your accomplishments with the “Sharing
Common Ground” report.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Leef.
We'll move to Mr. Rafferty, please, for seven minutes.
Mr. John Rafferty: Thank you very much, Chair.
If we get interrupted by votes, I wonder if we could have all of our
witnesses back at a later date if they get interrupted.
The Chair: Your time is running. We'll deal with that if we face it.
Mr. John Rafferty: One of the things that police services need is
long-term funding so you can plan and make those positive changes
to police services that you can.
Chief Herman, Minister Toews said, and I don't know if it was in
the House, but he certainly announced there was a five-year funding
agreement in place now with first nations police services, and yet in
your opening remarks you talked about not having enough money to
finish this fiscal year likely and funding ending in 2014. I don't get
what the discrepancy is there.
● (1020)
Chief Robert Herman: I think that when the minister made the
announcement he talked about sustainable funding. Sustainable
funding I guess is in the eye of the beholder, so from a government
standpoint, it certainly would meet sustainable for planning for their
budget, but from an operational aspect, it's not sustainable funding.
The agreement that we are in right now is a one-year extension of
the last negotiated agreement, which is from 2008. The government
may have committed five years of money, although we have yet to
see what that model looks like and if there are any enhancements. If
there are, I suspect they won't really meet our needs. But at the end
of the day, until they sit down and actually honour the tri-party
agreement and have a negotiation with the first nations that are the
third signatory to that agreement, there isn't sustainable funding.
Mr. John Rafferty: This reminds me that I asked the minister
some weeks ago during question period, or maybe it was here in
committee, if he would be willing to meet with aboriginal leaders
who are part of these first nations police service areas. To your
knowledge has that happened?
Chief Robert Herman: No. The grand chief for Nishnawbe Aski
Nation wrote the minister asking for that meeting following his
comments and has received a response from the minister stating that
he doesn't have time in his calendar to actually meet with him.
Mr. John Rafferty: The funding for first nations police services
in Ontario is partly provincial, at 48%, I think, and then 52% federal.
How would you characterize the provincial cooperation, let's say, or
the support that they give your police service?
Chief Robert Herman: The province has been good. The
province actually enhances the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service
through a number of programs. For example, there have been
initiatives by the provincial government such as the community
safety enhancement programs, and there has been funding through
PAVIS, which is the provincial anti-violence intervention strategy.
We have an additional six officers funded through those programs.
They're fully funded by the province, as opposed to having the
federal government—
Mr. John Rafferty: That's ongoing funding?
Chief Robert Herman: That's correct. It's in perpetuity and, of
course, perpetuity means the life of the government, so....
April 30, 2013
Mr. John Rafferty: Chief Herman, you have a lot of experience
in policing. You've spent most of your career in Thunder Bay in the
Thunder Bay Police Service, and you ended up as the chief of police
in Thunder Bay. You retired and now have moved over to NAPS, so
you know about urban first nations policing too. I wonder if you
could make a comment on aboriginal policing in an urban setting
and the challenges that you have as a police service in the isolated
● (1025)
Chief Robert Herman: Well, first of all, I guess what was an eyeopener for me is when I actually started flying. I've been to 22 of the
24 fly-in communities and have met with the leadership and the
officers. I can tell you that in terms of the standards that are in the
northern policing communities, if I had tried to get away with that
when I was the chief in Thunder Bay, I would have had the Ministry
of Labour giving me orders to correct all those deficiencies.
Mr. John Rafferty: Yes.
Let me ask you about infrastructure, because I know that's one of
the biggest concerns in the remote communities in particular.
How does infrastructure work for police in these communities? Is
it the responsibility of the first nations to supply the housing? Who
pays for upkeep and so on? How does that work?
Chief Robert Herman: As a police service, we're not allowed to
own infrastructure. That's a government rule. Because of that, the
first nation is supposed to supply housing for our officers, which
they have a tough time doing because they can't even supply housing
for their own people. Yet on the other side of the coin, Health
Canada has nurses, and there are teachers and emergency medical
staff up there who have housing supplied for them by the
government. They actually live in very nice housing compared to
some of the places that my officers have to stay in.
For detachments, the agreements are between the band and the
two levels of government, but the operating costs actually fall upon
the police service. It's supposed to be part of our overall funding
model, but as I said, 13 new detachments have come online, with
four more coming on in the next year, and we've never received any
money to actually operate them.
Mr. John Rafferty: I was having a chat a little while ago with a
member of Parliament who used to be a police officer, an OPP
officer. He indicated that when the OPP transferred the service to
NAPS, the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service, everything was fine and
everything worked well. What's happened since then? Why the
dilemma that you're in now?
Chief Robert Herman: I'm not quite sure about it working well.
First of all, the RCMP left the province of Ontario in the early
seventies and turned it over to the OPP. When the OPP did it, they
basically had the band constable program, which was a tiered level.
The OPP would fly in to the communities—the northwest and
northeast patrols—to provide policing, but first nations communities
didn't want that. They wanted policing. They wanted the same level
of policing that was afforded to everybody else in the province.
We've tried to provide that, but we just don't have enough resources
to do it.
The big question for first nations policing is about what legislation
actually applies to it. Because that's iffy, it's hard to get people to
come in and say, “No, you have to meet these standards.” I can tell
you that the challenges are much greater in first nations policing. The
experience that the officers get in one year is probably the equivalent
of five years' experience in a municipal setting. They learn to be
community officers. It's a different type of policing altogether.
I've spoken to the current chief in Thunder Bay. I've said to him,
“For one month, give me the 10 officers who are causing you the
most problems. I'll send them up north, and when you get them back,
they'll be very happy to work for you.” That's the type of
environment we work in. It's sad that I have to say that, but that's
the reality.
Mr. John Rafferty: Could you, very briefly, talk about retention
of officers? I know that's a problem.
Chief Robert Herman: In our service, we've lost about 50% of
our officers in the last three years. About 52% of our officers are
non-native and 48% are native. It's very difficult to recruit native
officers from the communities.
The Chair: Thank you very much.
We'll go to Mr. Gill, please.
Mr. Parm Gill (Brampton—Springdale, CPC): Thank you, Mr.
I also want to thank our witnesses.
My question is for Mr. Riches.
Can you tell us what, in your view, are currently the greatest
inefficiencies within the criminal justice system as it affects remote
areas, and what solutions are currently being proposed to the
ongoing problems in these remote areas?
April 30, 2013
Mr. Robert Riches: In Yukon, which is what I can speak of, as
other people have said, the RCMP or the police are often all things to
all people, and they're an expensive option. For us, the ability to
move other service providers into the communities is sometimes
limited, so part of the issue is how we support the RCMP and other
police in their work, but also support communities with appropriate
We're a small jurisdiction; we have very little ability to achieve
economy of scale. We have three-member detachments in which
members need holidays or need to move out, so we need to backfill
them. Often this is done by air. It's all very expensive.
I would have to agree with others who have spoken that there are
issues for which we need to have different resources, and things such
as SCAN are part of this. Social services responses are part of it.
Providing social services is really the largest cost.
Mr. Parm Gill: What immediate changes do you feel can be made
to facilitate and increase policing efficiencies using existing
resources in remote areas?
Mr. Robert Riches: I think we need to talk about how we help
police forces, how we help detachments, how we help one
community serve another community, providing for better economy
of scale in places that are close enough together to do that. Yukon is
a big jurisdiction, and detachments are a long way apart. These are
some of the things we need to do.
Among some of the things we have done, we have a correctional
centre that's been built for holding prisoners. Actually, holding
police prisoners there has created an immediate efficiency. Instead of
valuable police time being spent on detention, it is now being spent
out on the streets working which is what they should be doing.
This is something we can't accomplish in communities, but the
numbers of arrests and the numbers of people we hold in
communities is very small in Yukon.
Mr. Parm Gill: Would you be able to share with us whether
you're aware of any other projects that you consider successful in
increasing efficiency in policing efforts and that result in overall
crime reduction?
Mr. Robert Riches: We're talking about crime reduction. One
thing that is successful is the prolific offender management program,
in which we have social service agencies, mental health staff,
corrections staff, and police all working together on a caseload of
about 20 or so people who are the most prolific offenders, whom we
see the most. They provide wraparound services and structured case
management, and those people tend to not be involved in as many
criminal acts.
The one thing that does happen, though, is that there's an increase
in breach charges. Administration of justice charges are increased
over the short term, but over the long term they begin to decrease as
the people are monitored for longer on the program. I think the
prolific offender management program is a good model.
The community wellness court model is another one. It is also an
integrated case management model, for people with substance abuse
or mental health issues, who enter a different court stream. It's a
case-managed court stream. We operate it out of a community
wellness centre in the community. It's also an integrated approach.
We work a lot with people with FASD and others.
These are things that aren't high cost to operate; they mostly use
existing resources that are just rechannelled into more intensive case
management and wraparound services, because we're managing the
clients by risk.
Mr. Parm Gill: Is there any technology currently being used to
track and share information among the parties involved in reducing
crimes in these remote areas?
Mr. Parm Gill: Here is another quick question for Chief Herman.
Mr. Robert Riches: I would say that the only mechanisms are
informal mechanisms between people talking to each other. We have
one police force in Yukon. We have the RCMP, and the RCMP
communicates very well within its own organization. But as far as
working with social service agencies and others is concerned,
informal links are developed over time.
Chief Herman, policing costs are increasing across Canada at a
time when governments are taking action to reduce deficits. What do
you see as an additional effective measure that can be taken to
streamline efforts, reduce costs, and maintain the high quality of
policing and protection for all Canadians?
● (1030)
Mr. Parm Gill: Can you tell us whether resources in mental
health and social services are having a direct impact on day-to-day
policing operations in some of these areas?
Mr. Robert Riches: What I can tell you is that resources are thin,
and as I said, the geography is large. We do our best here to get
services to communities. Most mental health services, etc., are
centred in Whitehorse at this time, and people are brought to
Whitehorse for those services. Certainly the community nursing
stations in Yukon do an excellent job of working with people in the
communities as a first point of contact, but for long-term care, it's
necessary to move people to Whitehorse.
Chief Robert Herman: I'll be very frank about this. I think you
need to fund self-administered first nations policing properly, which
would mean increasing the budget. At the end of the day, if first
nations policing fails and they walk away from this model, the cost
to the government will be approximately three times what it is now
to police those communities.
The Chair: Thank you. The time is up.
We will now go to Mr. Scarpaleggia, please.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Thank you, Chair.
I'd like to pursue the issue of funding. The minister announced an
extension to funding. For how many years would that be?
Chief Robert Herman: The minister announced sustainable
funding for five years.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: I'm trying to remember now, was
there an increase relative to the funding levels prior, or was it just a
straight extension of existing funding?
Chief Robert Herman: The last negotiated funding was in 2008.
There has been a cash injection into the budgets over two years,
which represented about 8%, but that 8% does not meet the actual
operational costs of the service. There really hasn't been any increase
to the funding since 2010.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Except for that cash injection, which
was for what?
Chief Robert Herman: It was to help cover some of the costs we
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: But these were not operational costs,
did you say?
Chief Robert Herman: We have global budgets. We don't have
capital or operational budgets. We just have global budgets.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Is the level for the next five years on
an annual basis the same as it has been in the past, except for that
two-year injection of cash?
Chief Robert Herman: I can't answer that beyond this year,
because this year I know that the funding level is based on the same
formula. I don't know what it's going to be from a go-forward
● (1035)
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: But this year it is.
Is the money allotted to the different first nations police forces in a
way that uses some kind of objective formula? Is it based on
population that you serve, or something else? How do they decide
which first nations police force gets how much money out of that
global budget?
Chief Robert Herman: I can't speak to the CTAs. I can tell you
about the first nations policing program in Ontario. It's based on a
cost per officer, and it's much lower than what my friend from
Whitehorse said. He said that somewhere around $200,000 is the
cost per officer. It's around $130,000 or $140,000.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Okay.
Are you stuck in a situation whereby both governments, Ontario
and Ottawa, say that first nations policing is very important and that
it's your responsibility?
Chief Robert Herman: They tend to point fingers,
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: There's a lot of pointing of fingers,
and in the meantime you don't get an upgraded radio system. Is that
what happens?
Chief Robert Herman: It's interesting. I've heard plenty of times
from the federal side of it that policing or justice is a provincial
responsibility under the Constitution, but I suppose health care is as
well, and other services.
April 30, 2013
At the end of the day, I think there's a fiduciary responsibility for
the federal government to be part of the solution. If the fingerpointing goes on, these problems are not going to be fixed.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: That's right.
You said something, and Mr. Rafferty alluded to it before, that on
December 31, 2013, certain funding will come to an end, or you'll
have to lay off some people. Could you repeat that?
Chief Robert Herman: It was a police officer recruitment fund
and it was a five-year program.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Oh, that, of course, yes.
Chief Robert Herman: I lost 80% of my service.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: That was 80% of your service.
Chief Robert Herman: That's correct.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: That's not made up by the province?
Chief Robert Herman: No.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Could that be reflected later on in
higher crimes rates, perhaps?
Chief Robert Herman: You'll see an impact across the board.
There are communities now where we don't have police in the
community for two or three weeks at a time because we don't have
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: Okay.
Whatever time is left, Chair, I know my colleague has a question.
The Chair: Okay, we'll move to Mr. Rafferty, then.
Mr. John Rafferty: That's very cooperative. Thank you very
much, Francis.
Mr. Francis Scarpaleggia: It's kind, not cooperative.
Mr. John Rafferty: It's very kind, in fact.
One of the things we've heard from a number of witnesses is the
use of other professionals, in some cases in lieu of police officers, to
provide a better service but also to reduce some costs. I'm thinking of
the north.
Maybe both Mr. Riches and Chief Herman could answer this.
The recruitment of those professionals, of course, is very difficult.
In northern Ontario there aren't enough doctors; there aren't enough
of all sorts of professionals.
Let's start with you, Chief Herman. If you had the opportunity in
the first nations you're responsible for, of having an officer working
with a mental health professional, for example, would you see some
merit in that, assuming that professional can be found, and also
perhaps a cost reduction?
Chief Robert Herman: We do that now. We work with nurses,
and we work with the professionals in the communities.
April 30, 2013
Interestingly enough, in some communities if no police are
present, Health Canada will pull the nurses out of that community.
We look at those efficiencies. Our officers are very involved in these
Chief Robert Herman: We look for efficiencies all the time in
how we police. I think we do a pretty good job of it, of living within
the budget we have, but the reality is that we just can't live within
that budget anymore.
You have to understand that these communities could have 250
people to 400 people, so it's a totally different style of policing. We
look for those efficiencies, but as an example, it is difficult to find
guards to guard prisoners. We have officers who will work a 20-hour
shift because there is nobody to guard the prisoner.
I can tell you that if you look at first nations policing from an
efficiency standpoint and an effectiveness standpoint, we are much
more effective and we are much more efficient. If it collapses, as I
said earlier, the cost to the governments will be probably three times
what it is now. I know that Ontario has actually looked at this to see
what the cost is.
Mr. John Rafferty: Mr. Riches, would you like to comment on
Mr. Robert Riches: I think there is a lot of value in other services
linking with police to do business. Often when I travel in
communities, I hear people describe what they need in their
community and they describe what they see as a police officer, but
when I listen carefully to what they describe, they're describing a
social worker or a mental health worker. I think communities know
what they need. We need to help them get what they need, but a
police officer isn't always the answer to the problems. As a matter of
fact, it's very seldom the real answer. I think police intervention
should be restricted, but it's important that we get the right help to
the right people.
An expensive police officer, at our cost of $200,000 a year and
about $280,000 a year total cost, is not always the answer. I would
have to agree that a mental health person or a social worker would
be, in a lot of cases, a more appropriate response to the issues that
people in small communities describe.
● (1040)
Mr. John Rafferty: Okay, thank you very much.
That leads me to my next question which is about auxiliary
officers or volunteer people. I wonder, Chief Herman, if you could
describe in your police service how that is used in the communities
or if it's used. Also, I wonder if there is a line that can't be crossed; in
other words, you need an officer for something and you can't use a
volunteer. Would you like to comment on that?
Chief Robert Herman: We do have auxiliary officers. We have
about 40 in different communities. They volunteer so many hours a
month as part of their agreement to be an auxiliary police officer.
The reality is, as I said, the crime severity index is five times the
provincial average. We go to gun calls on a daily basis in the
communities, so there are calls where you have to have a police
We look at alternative methods of getting people to help us. As I
said, I can tell you that many times our backup is a member of the
band council, so we're putting them at risk in responding to these
Mr. John Rafferty: It's pretty clear that funding perhaps over the
last decade has not been sufficient to build a strong enough first
nations police service, and the money needs to be spent.
Do you see any savings anywhere? Do you see anywhere that
your police service, for example, could save money if legislation
were different, or something like that?
When you talk about efficiencies, I hear these numbers thrown
around. I'd love to have $200,000 per year per officer. I could run an
excellent police service on that. But that's not going to happen.
Mr. John Rafferty: Let me ask both of you, Mr. Riches and Chief
Herman, about communications.
Communications came up in the first hour with our witnesses
from the RCMP, in particular surrounding broadband but in general
police services, how you deal with that in the Yukon and in first
nations policing in northern Ontario.
I wonder if you could make some comments about communications in general, and then talk about broadband and so on. I'm just
thinking that if this kind of infrastructure were there, surely it would
make your service more efficient. From a safety perspective, of
course, it would be enormous. You might actually even save money
if that service were there.
Chief Robert Herman: I'll go first.
I believe governments are actually addressing that issue. They are
putting fibre optic cable in most of the first nations communities in
northern Ontario. That project is well under way. Bell Canada is
actually up there doing it.
It will make us more efficient from a records keeping standpoint in
that we can connect to our servers, but it will not address the issue of
an actual communications system.
The reality is there are OPP detachments in northern Ontario that
use what's called an MSAT radio system. Their calls can be
monitored from a communications centre in Thunder Bay or North
Bay. In some cases, those communities are 20 miles across the lake
from the first nations communities. We don't have that capability.
Yes, there are improvements. You're going to see this whole issue
of Internet really explode in the north. I can tell you right now that
there are first nations communities that tell about a meeting by going
on Facebook, so it is happening.
The Chair: Very quickly, Mr. Rafferty.
Mr. John Rafferty: Mr. Riches, would you like to make a
comment about communications in the Yukon?
Mr. Robert Riches: Yes.
Actually, we have excellent radio infrastructure, communications
infrastructure, in the Yukon. We replaced the system about three
years ago on a cost share agreement with the RCMP. We have an
integrated system that all Government of Yukon is on throughout the
territory. It's an excellent system. The RCMP cost share with us on
the operational costs of that system.
Internet broadband is expanding in the north, and it's the intention
of governments to expand it further. In the Yukon we're lucky. We
have roads everywhere, not like in the Northwest Territories or
Nunavut, other than Old Crow. Our communications are fairly good,
and our access to broadband is improving all the time.
● (1045)
The Chair: Thank you very much, Mr. Riches and Mr. Rafferty.
Mr. Norlock, it looks like you're going to have the last statement
Mr. Rick Norlock (Northumberland—Quinte West, CPC):
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
I'd like to thank the witnesses, through you, for appearing today.
I will just throw out a few numbers for the chief of police.
Chief Herman, when you were chief of the Thunder Bay police
and you needed two officers, instead of going before a chief and
council, you went before a mayor and council. They said either yes
or no, because the people of Thunder Bay paid for it.
Let me go through some numbers for you.
The minister just signed an agreement for first nations policing for
$612 million, which is a 30% increase over the last agreement.
April 30, 2013
The area covered by NAPS in Ontario got $15 million under the
economic action plan for the construction of nine police offices,
some of which I used to work at, including Fort Albany, Fort Severn,
and a few others. So I guess from the standpoint of the average
Canadian citizen who would be out there....
I do know what you mean when you say there was a different kind
of policing. When I policed on the northeast patrol, we had things
like peacekeepers. We had a first nations police force. The
peacekeepers were.... I can remember lying in bed and talking a
first nations police officer through a gun call. So I understand what
you're saying.
Some of those numbers need to be out there, because there's a
30% increase.
I guess if you're saying that you want the same kind of policing in
southern Ontario, the OPP has contracts in southern Ontario, and if a
community wants more, they have to pay more.
The Chair: Thank you, Mr. Norlock. Unfortunately, our time is
I do want to thank the witnesses for being here today. We had a
different presentation today from some of the remote and aboriginal
policing. So we appreciate your being here today.
The meeting is adjourned.
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