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Province Taking Next Steps to Change Police Accountability

The Manitoba government has received an update on some initial findings of the review of The Police Services Act (PSA) to support continued transparency and accountability in policing, Justice Minister Cliff Cullen announced today.

“While we have experienced delays due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I am pleased to announce our government has received some initial findings from this review, which will require further evaluation and analysis,” said Cullen. “The results from this review will guide policing and police governance in Manitoba for years to come. We are committed to ensuring we get it right so we can move forward with confidence to implement meaningful changes that will serve Manitobans well.”

The PSA defines the roles and responsibilities of the Manitoba government, the Manitoba Police Commission, the Independent Investigations Unit (IIU), municipal and First Nation police boards, municipal councils and police services, and establishes the interrelationship between the various entities. It also sets out the direction for the creation of standards for police services, as well as a mechanism to ensure compliance.

The review is being led by the Community Safety Knowledge Alliance (CSKA), a Saskatchewan-based non-profit that supports governments and other stakeholders in developing, implementing and evaluating new approaches to community safety and well-being.

CSKA conducted significant stakeholder consultations with representatives from various organizations in Manitoba’s policing and police governance system including provincial and municipal government officials, chairs and members of police boards, chiefs of police and police associations and oversight agencies. Input was also provided by First Nation and Métis organizations, provincial and federal public prosecution services, learning institutions, non-governmental community safety organizations and the Criminal Defence Lawyers Association of Manitoba.

The review will include a thorough cross-jurisdictional analysis and provide advice related to the changing context of policing and community safety in Canada and reforms that are needed to ensure that the act meets the current and future needs of Manitobans.  

The province is establishing an internal team within Manitoba Justice that will be tasked with evaluating and acting on the advice received and developing plans to implement reforms. The team will be undertaking significant research and consultations with a variety of stakeholders and subject matter experts including police agencies, Indigenous and non-governmental organizations, oversight agencies, police governance organizations, the Association of Manitoba Municipalities and others.

Some highlights of the review include:

•    oversight and accountability reforms,

•    guidance on new police standards,

•    advice on enhancing civilian governance,

•    augmenting supplementary public safety services, and

•    community safety and well-being best practices.

The minister noted the province will introduce new legislation next year that would address gaps in the current framework pertaining to the IIU, and said further details regarding the outcomes of the review and Manitoba’s plan moving forward will be shared in the coming months.


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