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On September 20, 2019 the Ontario Human Rights Commission (“OHRC”) released the Policy on eliminating racial profiling in law enforcement (the “Policy”), which provides practical guidance for “law enforcement” (broadly defined to include transit officers and inspectors, private security organizations, college and university campus law enforcement, risk assessment personnel, etc.) and the government on how to identify and prevent racial profiling.

The Policy is a response to the OHRC’s 2017 consultation report, Under Suspicion, which found that racial profiling has a profoundly harmful impact on Indigenous, Black, and other racialized people in Canada.

The OHRC’s new Policy sets out the following seven key principles/practices for eliminating racial profiling:

  • Acknowledgement: Substantively acknowledge the reality of racial profiling, including the impact it has on individual and community well-being and trust in law enforcement, and recognize the specific impact on Indigenous peoples and racialized communities and individuals
  • Engagement: Actively and regularly engage with diverse Indigenous peoples and racialized communities to obtain frank and open feedback on the lived experience of racial profiling and effective approaches to combatting it
  • Policy guidance: Adopt and implement all appropriate standards, guidelines, policies and strict directives to address and end racial profiling in law enforcement
  • Data collection: Collect and analyze race data to identify and reduce disparity, and to manage performance
  • Monitoring and accountability: Regularly monitor racial profiling, and set robust internal accountability mechanisms at the governance, management and operational levels
  • Organizational change: Implement multi-faceted organizational change (for example, in relation to training, culture, hiring, incentive structures, etc.), consistent with the OHRC’s guide, Human rights and policing: Creating and sustaining organizational change
  • Multi-year action plan: Form anti-racist action plans featuring initiatives geared toward achieving short-term and long-term targets for advancing all of these principles

The OHRC has called on the police and other law enforcement agencies to create public plans for implementing the Policy’s recommendations, with clear timelines. Employers engaging in “law enforcement” broadly (e.g., security, loss prevention, private investigation, etc.) should carefully consider the principles/practices outlined by the Policy to ensure that their employees do not engage in racial profiling in the course of their duties.

Only time will tell how effective the implementation of the Policy will be in ending racial profiling in Canadian law enforcement, but it is certainly a step in the right direction.

This blog is provided as an information service and summary of workplace legal issues.

This information is not intended as legal advice.