Evidence of meeting #7 for Public Safety and National Security in the 43rd Parliament, 1st Session. (The original version is on Parliament’s site, as are the minutes.) The winning word was communities.

A video is available from Parliament.

On the agenda

MPs speaking

Also speaking

Brenda Lucki  Commissioner, Royal Canadian Mounted Police
Gail Johnson  Chief Human Resources Officer, Royal Canadian Mounted Police

7:05 p.m.

Commr Brenda Lucki

No. Actually—and I think I mentioned it earlier, when Minister Blair was here—it was always believed that to be bias-free, you should not collect racial data. Now we are rethinking that, because, as I said, in order to bring change to marginalized or racialized communities, we need to have that data.

As I said to Mr. Angus, we are going to work with the Privacy Commissioner to see how we can collect those statistics and how we can use those statistics to alter our police delivery.

7:05 p.m.

Bloc

Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Thank you.

I feel that it can feed certain stereotypes, as you say, but at the same time it can document phenomena like racial profiling, for example. What do you have to say about that?

7:05 p.m.

Commr Brenda Lucki

Yes, it would definitely help us to look at the racial disparities and obviously at ways to address them. Those statistics would be crucial for that.

7:05 p.m.

Bloc

Kristina Michaud Bloc Avignon—La Mitis—Matane—Matapédia, QC

Thank you.

According to the 2019 Public Accounts of Canada, the RCMP spent a significant amount of money, more than double the amount spent the previous year, on class action settlements.

I know you probably do not have the numbers with you, but can you tell me more about the allocation of those amounts? Specifically, has the RCMP had to compensate victims of police violence, either as the result of court orders or settlement agreements?

What does spending that money mean for taxpayers?

7:05 p.m.

Commr Brenda Lucki

I don't have those statistics.

Much of our litigation—not much, but.... For example, our fleet is not insured. Because our fleet is so big, it would be too costly, so whenever we deal with any type of vehicle collision, it is through litigation, through that settlement, which is actually much cheaper than carrying insurance. Because police officers do high-risk driving, it's elevated rates, obviously, even though we are trained to do that high-risk driving. That's just one example.

Unfortunately, I don't have the specific statistics for you.

7:05 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Thank you, Madame Michaud.

Mr. Angus, you have two and a half minutes.

7:05 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

We're not under the RCMP in Treaty 9; it's OPP and NAPS, but we have many two-person detachments with young people, very idealistic. They're living in great isolation, servicing without support for mental health, in the midst of an opioid crisis, and then a suicide crisis hits. We're seeing kids nine and 10 years old dying. The police are in there all the time dealing with it. We've had a number of traumas. We've had a number of suicides. People don't like to talk about it, but there's an effect on the front line.

What do you have to ensure the mental health of the workers who are on the front lines? Some of the highest suicide rates in the world would be in the communities you represent.

June 23rd, 2020 / 7:05 p.m.

Commr Brenda Lucki

When we speak about the mental health and well-being of our members, we can't do enough, absolutely.

Actually, we're doing a longitudinal PTSD study that is the first of its kind in the world. We are following the cadets for five years out of the training academy to see what triggers PTSD so we can be better at prevention. We also have operational stress injury clinicians in each province.

Maybe I could pass it over to Gail. I know—

7:10 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

No, sorry, we don't have enough time.

7:10 p.m.

Commr Brenda Lucki

There's no time for Gail.

7:10 p.m.

NDP

Charlie Angus NDP Timmins—James Bay, ON

I'm sorry about that.

Certainly the junior rangers in our region are a lifeline, but I want to close here on the effects of COVID. Many of our communities had to shut down entirely. They did enormous work to keep COVID out, but under enormous pressure. This just ramped up the pressure.

What are the terms and conditions the police face in going into communities that are shutting themselves down and insisting on very strong isolation?

7:10 p.m.

Commr Brenda Lucki

When COVID started, every police officer who went into the territories had to self-isolate outside of the communities, in Winnipeg or Ottawa. We did not want to be bringing COVID into the northern communities. We still have that. All of our relief workers self-isolated before they went there; absolutely.

When we talk about mental health, it's interesting; the numbers have spiked since COVID. It's a very difficult situation. We are social human beings. We need to socialize. When you take that away.... The indigenous population has had social distancing ceremonies. Nobody's used to that. I just watched my sister's wedding on Zoom on Saturday. I had an unfortunate.... My nephew committed suicide during COVID, and I have yet to go home to be with my family. We have had no celebration, so the effects are devastating. It's something that we will never fully understand, and I'm sure it will be long term.

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Thank you, Mr. Angus.

I have a chair's prerogative question.

The RCMP is about to enter into a relationship with the union, which has been a long time coming. In the United States, and possibly even in other police forces here in Canada, the unions have frequently been a huge problem, particularly in protecting officers who by any other circumstances should have been let go.

What assurances can you give as the commissioner—or possibly even the chief of human resources—that this does not become a problem and that the union is on the same page, shall we say, as the RCMP in dealing with officers who are truly a problem?

7:10 p.m.

Commr Brenda Lucki

Mr. Chair, I would love to say that I could give you some guarantees. Obviously, I can't, but our union focus has been based on relationship building. I've had conversations with our union president. Unfortunately, they have not been able to go into negotiations because of COVID, but I have stressed time and time again that we have an unprecedented opportunity to be the envy of all police unions in the world, not just in North America and not just in Canada. We will base that on mutual respect and holding members to account who need to be held to account.

In those discussions, I have said that we don't want to be in conflict. I will take a nudge any time, but I won't appreciate getting thrown under the bus. Our relationship was one of of mutual respect, and we want to guard that. Our relationship before with our divisional representatives was exactly that. We have decided to work together to do this so that we do have one of the strongest and fairest police unions we can have.

7:10 p.m.

Liberal

The Chair Liberal John McKay

Thank you, Madam Commissioner, and your colleagues.

That brings our first meeting on this topic to an end. I would remind all parties that witness lists are to be submitted by the end of Thursday.

Is that correct? Okay.

With that, the meeting is adjourned.