- I have been mandated by the Prime Minister to work with the Minister of Indigenous Services to co-develop a legislative framework which recognizes First Nations policing as an essential service and to expand access to the First Nations Policing Program (FNPP) to additional communities.
- The commitment to accelerate the co-development of a legislative framework for First Nations policing was reiterated in the recent Speech from the Throne.
- Indigenous communities deserve equal access to policing services that are professional, dedicated and culturally appropriate. In order to effectively serve Indigenous communities, police services need the resources, the equipment and the facilities to get the job done.
- I have started conversations with some Indigenous leaders in order to lay the foundation for working together to co-develop legislation.
- We remain seized with the urgency to co-develop a new legislative framework for Indigenous policing, one which recognizes and acknowledges the jurisdictions of First Nations.
Since 1991, the Government of Canada has supported policing services in First Nation and Inuit communities through the First Nations Policing Program (FNPP), a program that is cost-shared with provinces and territories in accordance with a 52% federal and 48% provincial/territorial (PT) cost-share ratio. In 2018-2019, Public Safety Canada (PS) provided over $146 million under the FNPP to support 1,321 police officer positions in over 450 First Nation and Inuit communities in Canada.
The FNPP has had a significant and measurable positive impact on the safety of First Nation and Inuit communities funded under the program. Based on an analysis of FNPP-funded police detachments, there has been a 26% decrease in incidents of crime from 2004 to 2014, with a 25% reduction in incidents of violent crime. However, gaps and funding inequities remain: 1/3rd of First Nation communities are not covered by the Program, there is a limited FNPP presence in the Territories and no presence in Nunavut, and Metis communities remain ineligible for the Program. In addition, the funding mechanism of a discretionary program, where Indigenous communities are forced to compete against each other for limited funding, has been widely criticized by Indigenous and other stakeholders as being inappropriate for an essential service such as policing.
Protests across Canada and the United States against police brutality have compelled discussions about systemic racism and discrimination in Canadian institutions, including in the justice system. This has included conversations on the delivery of policing services across Canada, including in Indigenous communities. Members of Indigenous leadership, activists, academics and other stakeholders have proposed changes to the delivery of policing services in communities, including more robust civilian oversight and training on de-escalation training and unconscious bias.
To respond to these key issues, your mandate letter currently states the following with respect to the way forward for Indigenous policing: “With the Minister of Indigenous Services, co-develop a legislative framework for First Nations policing, which recognizes First Nations policing as an essential service, and work with interested communities to expand the number of communities served by First Nations policing.” Similarly, the Speech from the Throne includes a commitment to: “accelerate work to co-develop a legislative framework for First Nations policing as an essential service.”
Progress on this mandate commitment would support Indigenous women and girls, which are disproportionately affected by all forms of violence. It is important to note that the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls (MMIWG) made the following Call for Justice (5.4) in its final report: “We call upon all governments to immediately and dramatically transform Indigenous policing from its current state as a mere delegation to an exercise in self-governance and self-determination over policing. To do this, the federal government's First Nations Policing Program must be replaced with a new legislative and funding framework, consistent with international and domestic policing best practices and standards, that must be developed by the federal, provincial, and territorial governments in partnership with Indigenous Peoples.”
In addition to several key meetings with potential partners and stakeholders that you have had over the past several months, including the Assembly of First Nations (AFN), the First Nations Police Governance Council and Pauktuutit Inuit Women of Canada, departmental officials continue to lay the groundwork to make progress on this mandate commitment. This includes providing funding to the AFN to establish a dedicated policing sector and engagement of the FNPP Stakeholder Panel, FPT officials and the First Nations Chiefs of Police Association.
Prepared by: Erin Robinson, Senior Policy Advisor, 613-302-1037
Approved by: Trevor Bhupsingh, A/ADM, CSCCB, 613-769-3042
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