The Ontario government announced the hiring of an additional 200 Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) officers. These new recruits will provide OPP frontline officers with the additional resources they need to better protect communities, while safeguarding their mental health and well-being.
Details were provided today by Premier Doug Ford, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones, and OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique at OPP General Headquarters in Orillia.
"As we help communities recover from the impacts of COVID-19, it's absolutely critical we give our brave men and women in uniform the tools and resources they need to do their job, stay healthy, and keep us all safe," said Premier Ford. "That's why our government is putting more boots on the ground to crack down on the criminals who would rob families and individuals of the chance to rebuild their lives during this very difficult period."
"Frontline police officers are always there when our communities need them and we have all witnessed their profound dedication to the public during the COVID-19 outbreak," said Solicitor General Jones. "As we continue to safely and gradually reopen the province and more people go back to work, these new frontline OPP officers will provide much-needed support to our existing complement of officers and ensure we keep our communities safe."
This recruitment initiative responds to recommendations made by the OPP Independent Review Panel (IRP) in its final report released in March. Established in April 2019 to study the workplace culture at the OPP, the IRP was also tasked with examining how the provincial police address issues of mental health, occupational stress injuries and suicide among its members and with providing a series of recommendations.
The OPP is addressing other recommendations from the panel including changes and enhancements to leadership training and activities to promote a healthy and inclusive workplace, creating a new Healthy Workplace Bureau, and establishing OPP-wide strategies to support members when they return to work after a leave of absence.
"Policing is a service that ensures Ontario's communities remain safe, secure, healthy and prosperous," said Commissioner Carrique. "The addition of 200 frontline officers demonstrates a commitment to the Ontario Provincial Police, the well-being of officers and community safety."
The hiring of 200 new frontline OPP officers builds on Ontario's $2.6 million investment announced in April to hire new OPP psychologists and other mental health clinicians. It also supports the creation of a new integrated mental health support program launched in March in partnership with the Ontario Provincial Police Association (OPPA).
"This announcement aligns with the recommendations highlighted by the Independent Review Panel and further reinforces the government's commitment to support the mental health and well-being of our members," said Rob Jamieson, President of the OPPA. "We would like to thank Premier Doug Ford and Solicitor General Sylvia Jones for their ongoing support and dedication."
Of the IRP’s 66 recommendations, 48 are being implemented and 18 are being explored.
The work of the IRP was informed by insights and experiences shared by current and former OPP members, the OPP Commissioner and member associations, as well as families of members who died by suicide. In addition, the panel received over 5,000 survey responses and 250 email submissions.
The IRP report complements the OPP’s own internal reviews and the recommendations from the Ontario Chief Coroner’s Expert Panel on Police Officer Deaths by Suicide Report.