Doug Ford's police 'quick fix' will not help Ontario at all, expert says
The Ontario government plans to boost police enrolment by lowering education requirements
The Ontario government’s plans to boost police enrolment by lowering education requirements is igniting questions about what this means for the future of the province.
Many are questioning whether it will lead to more confrontations with police, particularly amongst marginalized populations. Others are outraged that sectors like education and health are being overlooked for the same kind of incentive when it comes to recruitment.
Ontario Premier Doug Ford announced on Tuesday plans to drop post-secondary education requirements for police recruits in the province, as well as offer free tuition, in an effort to boost dwindling enrolment. Currently, police enrolment requires any type of four-year degree to be accepted. Ford’s proposed legislation would mean recruits only need to have a high school diploma to enrol.
The cost of the program is said to be $15,450. Including the additional spaces the provinces plans to open, the cost to cover tuition will be approximately $34 million per year.
On social media, some felt the plan was misguided, particularly at a time when the retention rate of nurses and doctors is falling short in the province.
This is absolutely enraging for many reasons - but one that stands out is that we have a dire nursing shortage and Ford has done nothing to support them...
Nothing from this gov, just more and more cops - it'd be laughable if it wasn't so depressing. https://t.co/khFcqMn99O
— Saman Tabasinejad (@samantabasin) April 25, 2023
What about free tuition for nurses, who have to complete a four-year degree? What about for PSWs who have to complete a one-year program? How about ECEs who have to complete a two-year certificate? This tells us so much about this government's screwed up priorities. https://t.co/6R22XlnfAB
— Devon Paul (@Devoptimus) April 25, 2023
1/2 Creating a "pipeline" for more police officers when (a) we know $1 invested in violence prevention saves $7 on cops, courts, cages and victims services after victimization occurs and (b) when policing often harms people pushed to the margins is bad idea.
— Justin Piché, PhD (@JustinPicheh) April 25, 2023
I don’t agree with Doug Ford’s new lax education standards for police recruits. But the extra income will be nice around the house. I expect Norah to make detective by grade 2. Good morning. pic.twitter.com/ied5hEva7g
— Steve Patterson (not a parody)🇺🇦 (@patterballs) April 26, 2023
If Doug Ford is going to remove post-secondary education requirements, there should be a salary reduction as well. Police officers without post-secondary education should make less. Is that what he is proposing too?https://t.co/WBc6mXe5Hc
— Amie Archibald-Varley-Nursing my way into Media (@AmieVarley) April 25, 2023
You could absolutely make the case for education here, but the fact Ford opts to make tuition free for police and not nurses, after 3 years of an ongoing brutal pandemic in which nurses have made so much sacrifice, might be the most absurd thing he has done yet.#onpoli
— Bobby Guse (@Bobby_Guse) April 25, 2023
The move is a much different course than the recommendations proposed just last month from the inquiry into the 2020 mass shooting in Nova Scotia. It suggested that the Royal Canadian Mounted Police offer a three-year, degree-based model of police training.
Philip J. Boyle is an associate professor in the Department of Sociology and Legal Studies at the University of Waterloo. He says more police officers with less education isn’t going to solve long-term problems. Boyle describes it as recipe for more negative interactions between police and the public in the province, especially among people from marginalized and disadvantaged populations.
“It looks like the province is reaching for a quick fix and I don’t think it will be the fix they’re hoping it will be,” Boye tells Yahoo News Canada.
Boyle adds that police training needs to be reconsidered entirely, since the job goes way beyond fighting crime and arresting people. He suggests police education should also include training in social work, negotiation, crisis and case management, and how to respond to people with mental health and substance abuse issues.
“They’re performing a mix of duties — partly acting as a social worker, partly acting as crisis managers, partly acting as problem solvers, as negotiators,” he says. “All of that takes a really complicated mix of skills that doesn’t just come naturally.”
It looks like the province is reaching for a quick fix and I don’t think it will be the fix they’re hoping it will be.
Boyle says the default is to fall back on a crime fighting mode, which he says can only be a short-term fix but ultimately will not help deal with the real issues around crime and antisocial behaviour.
What’s needed is more funding into social services and resources for substance dependency, mental health and unemployment.
“All those structural issues need to be looked at,” Boyle says. “Even the best trained police force will not be able to tackle those issues but certainly not a police force that has even less education than what’s required now.”