Premier announces plans to hire 200 new OPP officers

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Premier announces plans to hire 200 new OPP officers

Postby Thomas » Sat Aug 29, 2020 9:03 am

ORILLIA — Premier Doug Ford was in Orillia on Thursday to announce the hiring of 200 additional police officers in the province.

Flanked by officers on the helipad at OPP General Headquarters, Ford acknowledged the struggles police face as a result of not having enough “boots on the ground.”

“We know many of our first-responders struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD,” he said. “I want our OPP staff to know we’ll always have your backs. We’ll always have all the police’s backs throughout Ontario. That’s why our government provided $2.6 million earlier this year to hire mental health workers to support our OPP personnel.

“Now, more than ever,” he continued, “we need to make sure the criminals out there face the justice they deserve. We need to protect our communities from the senseless violence. So, today, I’m proud to announce here at OPP headquarters that we will be investing $25 million to hire 200 more OPP officers.”

The new officers will be deployed to “areas of greatest need across the province,” he said.

Asked where, specifically, the new officers will work, Solicitor General Sylvia Jones said that would be up to the OPP. She did say she expected there would be a focus on northern Ontario, where police are understaffed in many communities.

Jones noted there were “many factors” around the timing of today’s announcement, including the OPP’s independent review panel.

“We needed to start to react and respond to the mental-health concerns …” she said.

Also on hand Thursday was Simcoe North MPP Jill Dunlop. She said her role as associate minister of children and women's issues has shown her how issues such as human trafficking and domestic violence “do not discriminate.”

“Your neighbourhood is not immune, and we could not fight these crimes without the dedication, bravery and compassion of our front-line officers,” she said. “With today’s announcement, we are taking steps to ensure that our front-line officers have the support they need to continue to help build healthier and safer communities.”

OPP Commissioner Thomas Carrique welcomed the funding, calling it “another step forward in our collective efforts to support our people, enabling the OPP to deliver our mission of safe communities and a secure Ontario.”

Orillia Mayor Steve Clarke spoke of the unique relationship his city has with the OPP, being home to a detachment, Central Region headquarters and general headquarters. He also acknowledged the toll the job can take on officers’ mental health.

“That is, to me, why this announcement is particularly important (as) part of this investment is earmarked for mental health issues,” he said.

Not everyone was pleased with the use of the $26 million.

Standing near the entrance to Thursday’s event were Tshweu Moleme and Richard Todish. Moleme was holding a sign that called on Ford to put money toward addressing poverty, jobs and a safe back-to-school plan.

“I came here to remind the premier that we haven’t forgotten about the big cheque of about $7 billion he got from Ottawa to help us deal with COVID-19,” said Moleme. “He needs to take it out from under his mattress. It would be nice if some of that money could be used for community services and helping homeless shelters in communities.”

Hiring more officers during the pandemic is misguided, Moleme added.

“We should not be policing homelessness and joblessness,” he said.

He also feels there should be more funding dedicated to the safety of students and teachers returning to the classroom.

“It’s unfortunate that the premier did not listen to school boards, unions, teachers and families who came forward with ideas of how we can safely return to school,” he said.

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