June 2, 2023 

Ottawa, ON — Against the backdrop of parliamentary hearings held this week by the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security to study Bill C-20, the National Police Federation appeared before the Committee and has submitted recommendations on ways to improve investigative efficiency, transparency, and accountability with respect to public complaints against Members of the RCMP. 

In its current form, the Civilian Review and Complaints Commission for the RCMP (CRCC) reviews complaints from the public who believe they have been unfairly or improperly treated by Members of the RCMP and provides non-binding recommendations to improve RCMP policies and practices.  

The majority of these complaints are investigated by Members of the RCMP which creates a significant burden on already strained resources, particularly in smaller detachments. Additionally, while these investigations are handled in a professional and impartial manner, there is continued public discussion around perceived conflict of interest and bias when it comes to police investigating the police, which this set of recommendations seeks to meaningfully address. 

“As police across the country strain to absorb greater mandates with less available resources, the impact of these investigations has also increased,” said Brian Sauvé, President and CEO, National Police Federation. “To be fully independent, the federal investigative body should be sufficiently funded to hire their own resources and establish investigative teams incorporating civilians and professionals with police training to avoid perceptions of bias related to police investigating police,” he added. 

Below are the NPF’s recommendations for Bill C-20 to address the issues of resourcing, police investigating police and to make the new PCRC a fully independent public complaints body: 

  1. The PCRC should end the practice of police investigating the police and implement a fully independent model, which could be comprised of a hybrid model featuring both civilian and police investigators or include a cost recovery mechanism. 
  1. The PCRC should be appropriately resourced to conduct its own investigations, with the authority to make independent decisions and recommendations that are not politically motivated or influenced by external pressures.  
  1. The PCRC, with the addition of the CBSA, would require a significant increase in budget and staff to better resource the existing and growing number of complaints, given the expected influx of new complaints. 

“Each year, our Members respond to roughly 3,000,000 calls across the country. Complaints are to be expected. However, the downloading of the investigation of these complaints onto our Members, on average 1,500 files per year, takes officers away from their core policing duties in the communities they serve,” said Sauvé. “Conservatively, we are talking about 60,000 hours of work, or the annual equivalent of 30 police officers exclusively dedicated to this work.  Either the model needs to change, or a cost recovery mechanism must be put in place to compensate for their investigative time.”  

Many jurisdictions across Canada have external oversight bodies or civilian review boards that provide independent oversight of police, helping to ensure impartiality, transparency, and public confidence in the process. A fully independent, well-resourced, comprehensive complaints process and investigative body would support Canadians’ best interest and current practices across other jurisdictions, where each Province is served by their own form of independent public complaints commission. 

A copy of our full submission to the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security is available here: NPF Bill C-20 Submission 

About the National Police Federation: 

The National Police Federation (NPF) represents ~20,000 RCMP Members serving across Canada and internationally. It is the largest police labour relations organization in Canada and second largest in North America. We are focused on improving public safety in Canada for our Members and all Canadians by advocating for investment in policing and other related supports and services. This includes calling for required resourcing, equipment, and supports to enhance community safety and livability in the communities we serve, large and small, across Canada. 

For more information: https://npf-fpn.com/

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Media contacts: 

Fabrice de Dongo
Manager, Media Relations
[email protected]
(647) 274-7118

Sarah Kavanagh
Coordinator, Media Relations
[email protected]
(604) 842-6864