Ottawa police say they welcome the province's decision to allow police forces to come up with their own rules about which officers can use Tasers.
Ontario Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur made the announcement Tuesday, exactly one month after Sammy Yatim, 18, was shot multiple times and stunned with a Taser by police during a confrontation on an empty streetcar in Toronto.
Prior to Tuesday's announcement, Ontario had restricted the use of Tasers to a select few supervising and tactical officers, setting Ontario police apart from counterparts in several other provinces and with the RCMP.
Police chiefs have been advocating for the expanded use of Tasers for years.
Tasers have been in use in Ottawa for several years and they are currently issued to all front-line supervisors on patrol and the police tactical unit, about 200 officers in total.
Chief wants 500 officers armed with tasers
Ottawa Police Chief Charles Bordeleau wants to have 300 more officers start carrying the weapon, to bring the total to 500.
"Our frontline officers have indicated that they get frustrated when they know they want to use a taser and it takes a couple of minutes for the sergeant to come down to the scene, so there is a demand," said Bordeleau.
In Ottawa, Tasers have been deployed by police about 18 times a year.
Bordeleau said Ottawa police are working on a report on the expanded use of Tasers. It will detail the costs, training needed and exactly what officers in what divisions will get the Taser.
The report will go to the police services board by the end of the year.
Bordeleau said each Taser is about $2,000. The cost to equip 300 patrol officers would cost the local taxpayer $600,000, but Bordeleau said the cost is a worthwhile investment.
The province will track Taser use and provide new training guidelines but it won't pay for the weapons.
James Foord, president of the Defence Counsel Association of Ottawa, argued police don't use Tasers as a weapon of last resort.
"They're allowed to use those not just for when they're faced with a situation where they believe that someone is going to be killed or seriously harmed," he said.
"They'll be be able to use them when they need to control someone, whatever that means."