On Tuesday, the Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC), Peel Regional Police (PRP) and its Board (PRPSB) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) committing to develop and implement legally binding remedies to identify and eliminate systemic racism in policing, promote transparency and accountability, and enhance Black, other racialized and Indigenous communities’ trust in policing throughout Peel Region.
The OHRC will provide human rights guidance to the PRP and PRPSB on initiatives to identify and eliminate systemic racism, in its service delivery and employment practices. Building on the principles laid out in the OHRC’s Policy on eliminating racial profiling in law enforcement, the parties will work collaboratively to adopt holistic and binding remedies to address structural changes, the role of policing, policy and procedural changes, accountability and monitoring, as well as community calls for de-escalation and defunding.
The parties also commit to robust engagement with Black, other racialized and Indigenous communities in the Peel Region to learn from their experiences before finalizing a legally binding agreement, an OHRC statement said.
“The OHRC commends the Chief of the Peel Regional Police for his bold leadership,” said Ena Chadha, OHRC Chief Commissioner. “By agreeing to work with Peel’s multi-racial communities and adopting legally binding remedies, Peel Regional Police recognize the importance of community engagement and understand that the community needs to see that police are accountable for their actions.”
“As police leaders, we must go beyond verbal affirmations. I, along with a consortium of the willing, are making bold and meaningful changes,” said Peel Police Chief Nishan Duraiappah. “We understand that the willingness to step out, implement changes, to drive out systemic racism without fear of failure is required and expected.”
“On behalf of the Peel Police Services Board, I want to congratulate Chief Duraiappah and the Ontario Human Rights Commission on this historic partnership,” said Peel Regional Police Services Board Chair Ron Chatha. “As one of the most multicultural and dynamic communities in Canada, the Board, along with Peel Regional Police, will become leaders among all police agencies in Canada to overcome and eliminate systemic racism in policing. The Board also wants to reinforce our full support to the fine members of Peel Regional Police. We thank them for their dedication and offer our full support today and going forward.”
The proposed agreement with remedies, timelines for implementation and mechanisms for accountability will be brought before the PRPSB for approval in early 2021. Once approved the parties will then approach the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) to request a consent order under section 45.9(2) of the Human Rights Code, which would require compliance with the terms of an agreed-upon settlement.