Review the Alberta Police Act

Resolution Year: 
2017

WHEREAS Efficiency, integrity, fairness and transparency of police discipline and oversight are fundamental to public confidence and trust in the police; and

WHEREAS The Police Act has not been modernized to address current policing and community concerns; and

WHEREAS Policing in Alberta has advanced and continues to evolve correspondingly with case law, tribunal decisions, community expectations and developments in labour relations.

THEREFORE LET IT BE RESOLVED THAT the Alberta Association of Police Governance urges the Government of Alberta to immediately start consultations aimed at modernizing the Police Act, with the aim of a tabling a revised act in 2018.

Background: 

In April 2016, AAPG passed a resolution urging the Government of Alberta: “to consult with police agencies and stakeholders to identify areas of the Police Act that require amendments, and to initiate a timely and thorough review of the Alberta Police Act and Regulations to make the amendments necessary to enhance and preserve public confidence and transparency in Alberta policing.”

In July 2016, the Justice Minister and Solicitor General replied indicating that recommendations for a path forward would come forward once the Minister had an opportunity to review and evaluate various proposals.

In the absence of movement by the Province on overhauling the legislation and regulations, the Alberta Association of Chiefs of Police established a committee that will begin reviewing the policy objectives of the Police Act, and to identify areas of potential legislative improvement to meet those objectives.

A broad consultation process that seeks input and agreement from stakeholders is likely to take many months. It should be initiated immediately so a new act can be tabled as soon as possible- 2018 is a realistic deadline considering the time required to conduct consultations and draft amendments.

The current Police Act presents specific challenges for Alberta police services who want to operate in a way that is in line with modern human resource management principles and processes. When it comes to harassment, discrimination, and workplace bullying, for example, the Police Act requires those matters to proceed through an antiquated quasi-military court martial approach, and leaves little room for informal resolution that would help strengthen the health of the workplace.

In a December 2013 report by the Standing Senate Committee on National Security, “Conduct Becoming: Why the Royal Canadian Mounted Police Must Transform Its Culture,” the committee recognized that “unresolved conflict poisons the workplace and slowly creates a toxic work environment,” and that “immediate steps need to be taken.”

The Police Act must be amended to provide mechanisms for mandatory mediation and conciliation to address workplace bullying, discrimination and harassment. The act also needs more effective procedures within the formal disciplinary system, as well as effective and independent oversight mechanisms.

Broad reforms are needed to instill confidence in police that they can speak out about harassment and discrimination in the workplace when they see or experience it, without fear of punishment or retaliation. The act must better reflect current community and police officer standards and expectations, particularly around police discipline.