Blue Line

Toronto Police Service establishes joint working group on respectful workplaces in policing in Ontario

June 20, 2022  By Blue Line Staff

June 15, 2022, Toronto, Ont. – The Toronto Police Service has provided an update on its initiatives to reach a more healthy and productive workplace, the establishment of a working group with other Ontario police services, and the findings of several independent workplace reviews.

“The issues of workplace harassment and discrimination around the culture of policing are sector-wide and require sector-based solutions,” said Chief James Ramer. “This is why, in partnership with the Ontario Provincial Police, and with the support of the Ontario Association of Chiefs of Police, the Service has established a Working Group on Respectful Workplaces in Policing, comprised of 16 police services from across the province.”

The committee work began in November 2021 and focuses on common issues in police culture and collaborating on how to create safe and respectful police workplaces. The working group’s preliminary insights and recommendations for moving forward can be found within a white paper authored by the Bernardi Centre, the training arm of Bernardi Human Resource Law LLP, a human resource law firm with extensive experience working with police agencies across the province.

In 2019, the Service and the Toronto Police Services Board commissioned an independent review on workplace wellbeing, harassment and discrimination at the Service. Conducted by Deloitte, the objectives were to identify and assess the unmet needs and barriers facing Service members, and to provide guidance as to how to implement long-term solutions. A follow-up Equity & Inclusion survey was conducted in 2021 to gain a better understanding of the member experience and to act as a touchpoint to assess how the Service is improving.

The issues identified in the TPS reviews are varied, and include themes related to leadership conduct and diversity, discrimination, mental health, and most of all, culture. The Board and the Service accept the findings, and are committed to considering all of the recommendations in the report for implementation.

The Service has begun much of the work that is identified in the reviews, which has resulted in the development of several major transformative initiatives within the Service.

These initiatives include:

  • Enhanced training requirements for members and cadets, including anti-harassment training for all supervisors and senior officers. Launched in 2020, over 1,000 supervisors have received this training to date.
  • A redesigned Workplace Harassment and Discrimination Complaints and Investigation process which will address feedback about the lack of trust, transparency and accountability in the process. Approximately fifty resolutions have been achieved using this new model.
  • The addition of two workplace dispute resolution specialists to work proactively with members and leaders before issues escalate. Over 100 coaching and guidance conversations have occurred since 2020.
  • The addition of a new health and wellbeing leader within the Service’s Wellness Unit to augment the already existing wellbeing and mental health resources and tools, including options for support inside and outside of the Service.
  • A continued overhaul of the Service’s human resources processes, including a new performance management process.
  • The collection of self-identification of socio-demographic data in the hiring and promotion processes to better meet the needs of members and to foster greater workplace diversity. Over 28,000 internal and external candidates have opted-in since 2020. Moreover, the diversity of senior officers has increased from sixteen per cent in 2019 to twenty-five per cent today.
  • Greater civilianization of roles to professionalize the Service by hiring individuals who are skilled for the work while also providing them with the flexible work models required to be productive.

All of these Service-specific efforts are having a cumulative effect of creating a healthier, more equitable and respectful workplace. Results of the follow-up review in 2021 showed that seventy-eight per cent of Service members feel that TPS is improving and making active efforts to build a more inclusive environment.

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