Toronto

Ontario Human Rights Commission calls on province to address systemic racism in policing

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) says the provincial government should establish a legislative and regulatory framework to address systemic racism in policing across Ontario.

Commission recommending police consult with prosecutors before charging suspects

The Ontario Human Rights Commission says the provincial government needs to address systemic racism in policing across Ontario. (CBC)

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) says the provincial government should establish a legislative and regulatory framework to address systemic racism in policing across Ontario.

It has released 10 steps it believes the province should take on the issue, including introducing a system that would see police consult with prosecutors before charging suspects.

The commission notes that Black, Indigenous and other racialized people are often overcharged.

Other recommendations include collecting a broader range of race-based data, making investigations of officer misconduct allegations more transparent and ensuring fewer police officers respond to calls related to mental health, substance use or homelessness.

"Systemic inequity in policing has pervasive implications throughout Ontario," said OHRC Chief Commissioner Ena Chadha in a press release. 

"To dismantle systemic racism, we must re-envision the systems that allow it to persist, and we need people in government with the vision, commitment to equity and tenacity to take on the difficult work of changing the system."

In a statement to CBC News, the Ministry of the Solicitor General said it's "carefully reviewing" the OHRC's report and recommendations.

The commission says the recommendations are based on consultations with experts and Black and other racialized communities over the last three decades about their experiences with policing. 

The commission says it has specifically researched racial profiling and discrimination of Black people in Toronto for several years, finding among other things, that Black people were far more likely to be killed by Toronto police than people from other racialized groups or white people.

In 2017, the commission launched a public inquiry into the Toronto Police Service. A year later its report, based on data obtained from the Special Investigations Unit, revealed that between 2013 and 2017, a Black person in Toronto was nearly 20 times more likely than a white person to be involved in a fatal shooting.

That being said, the commission says it would be "naive" to believe that racism in policing is only limited to Toronto.


For more stories about the experiences of Black Canadians — from anti-Black racism to success stories within the Black community — check out Being Black in Canada, a CBC project Black Canadians can be proud of. You can read more stories here.

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