Backgrounder - Ontario’s New Inspector General of Policing: Mandate and Legal Authorities

The Community Safety and Policing Act, 2019 (CSPA) is Ontario’s new policing legislation, replacing the Police Services Act. Importantly, the CSPA creates the new position of Inspector General of Policing. This new oversight role is responsible for ensuring adequate and effective policing and police governance is provided to all Ontario communities. 


The Inspector General independently operates to deliver on a legislative mandate that includes compliance inspections of police services, police board member conduct inspections, monitoring and advisory services, and where necessary, enforcement that is driven by research and data analysis. 


The Inspector General will be supported by the new Inspectorate of Policing, an arm’s-length division of the Ministry of the Solicitor General which will provide the operational support necessary to fulfill the Inspector General’s mandate under the CSPA. 


Policing Entities Subject to the Inspector General Oversight

The Inspector General has oversight of the following policing entities to ensure their compliance with the CSPA and its regulations:

  • Municipal police services and police service boards;
  • Chiefs of police;
  • The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and OPP detachment boards;
  • First Nations OPP boards and First Nations police services that opt-in to the CSPA;
  • Any entity providing policing by agreement including not-for-profit/for profit;
  • Any public sector body that may be prescribed to provide policing; and,
  • Organizations that employ special constables. 


Independent Decision-making Authorities 

The CSPA creates a new system of policing compliance oversight that is driven by independent, evidence-based decision-making. The CSPA builds in specific protections to ensure the Inspector General functions independently in regard to their statutory mandate under the CSPA, and their operational activities and decisions are made without influence.  

  • The Inspector General position is an Order-in-Council five-year appointment, renewable for an additional term of five years;
  • The CSPA specifically prohibits the Solicitor General from directing the Inspector General or any inspector appointed by the Inspector General with respect to their functions under the CSPA; and, 
  • While the Solicitor General may make a complaint to the Inspector General about the compliance of a police service or conduct of a police board member, the Inspector General may refuse to investigate the complaint if they believe it is frivolous; vexatious; or made in bad faith or dealing with the complaint is not in the public interest having regard to all the circumstances. The Inspector General must provide written reasons for the decision to decline to act on a complaint.


New Legal Authorities

The Inspector General’s legal duties and authorities are focused on ensuring compliance with requirements under the CSPA for policing and police governance. The Inspector General also has unique legal authorities to intervene where compliance issues are identified and to ensure the delivery of adequate and effective policing. 


Under the CSPA, the Inspector General’s legal duties and authorities include:  

  • Responding to public complaints concerning adequate and effective police service delivery and the conduct of police board members;
  • Proactively conducting inspections of police services and police service boards where the Inspector General determines an inspection would be in the public interest;
  • Issuing directions to ensure compliance with the CSPA and its regulations, where compliance issues are identified; 
  • Imposing mandatory measures where the Inspector General’s directions are not complied with, which can include:
    • Suspending a chief of police, or one or more members of a police service board, or the whole board; 
    • Removing a chief of police, or one or more members of a police service board, or the whole board;
    • Appointing an administrator to administer the police service; and/or,
    • Dissolving the police service board and disbanding the police service.
  • Imposing measures on a board member where the Inspector General determines that board member has committed misconduct, including issuing a reprimand, suspending the board member, or removing the board member from their position; 
  • In cases of a policing emergency, imposing measures to ensure the provision of adequate and effective policing; and, 
  • Reporting publicly on the Inspector General’s activities, including publishing all inspection reports and an annual report.