Ontario Regional Chief challenges federal and provincial governments to respond to the First Nation policing funding crisis


    TORONTO, Feb. 4 /CNW/ - Ontario First Nation police services are in a
state of crisis due to being chronically under-funded. "The federal cap on
funding is resulting in First Nation citizens being forced to accept lower
standards of policing than citizens in mainstream society. This is a health
and safety concern for First Nation citizens, and for First Nation police
officers. The federal and provincial governments are aware of this situation
and are basically non-responsive," stated Ontario Regional Chief Angus
Toulouse.
    First Nation police services are forced to work within a federal policy,
which views the services they provide as mere enhancements to the police
service of jurisdiction, which in Ontario is the Ontario Provincial Police
(OPP). The Regional Chief indicated that work has been done under the auspices
of the Ipperwash Inquiry which calls for federal policy reform to bring the
First Nation Policing Policy up to date and to recognize First Nation police
services as essential services within their communities. The Final Report of
the Ipperwash Inquiry also noted that both the federal and provincial
governments should increase capital and operational funding for First Nation
police services, and that this funding should be secured by renewable
five-year agreements between federal, provincial and First Nation governments.
"First Nations leaders are very concerned, and with good reason, that our
officers are being left without required resources due to continued government
inaction," said the Ontario Regional Chief.
    The federal Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness is
required to approach the federal Treasury Board to ensure funding is sustained
for First Nation policing. For a number of years, First Nation governments
have submitted deployment assessments which clearly identify the need for
increased officer complement, infrastructure and equipment upgrades.
Regardless of these deployment assessments, the Ministry of Public Safety and
Emergency Preparedness did not seek additional resources for First Nation
police services.
    "As recently as last week, the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service was forced
to close the prisoner cells of the Kasabonika Lake detachment due to the
deteriorating condition. I join Grand Chief Beardy in his call to the federal
and provincial governments to come to the table and work with First Nations to
develop long-term solutions that satisfy the health and safety needs of our
police services and citizens," stated Regional Chief Toulouse. He further
stated "I cannot emphasize strongly enough the decrepit and unsafe conditions
that far too many of our police detachments are in. Will it take more people
to die before we get a response from the federal and provincial governments?"
The Regional Chief mentioned the two unnecessary deaths, and serious injury to
an officer which occurred in Kashechewan on January 9, 2006 due to a fire in
the detachment.
    The Regional Chief indicated that the Final Report of the Ipperwash
Inquiry provides guidance to ensure certain First Nation police services in
Ontario are sustained and are provided with adequate funding levels. "This is
an issue of basic human rights. First Nation police officers undergo the same
training and perform the same duties as mainstream officers but are forced to
accept less then standard working conditions. We require our treaty partners
at the table to ensure that First Nation police officers are provided with the
necessities they need to carry out their responsibilities and to keep our
citizens and communities safe," said the Ontario Regional Chief Toulouse.




For further information: Pam Hunter, (416) 597-1266 or Policy Advisor,
(613) 203-3233