Police in Quebec: a profession still closed to permanent residents

Policeman in Quebec ;bec: a profession still closed to permanent residents

The only province where Canadian citizenship is a mandatory condition to become a police officer, Quebec is struggling to legislate on this subject, note Quebec Solidaire (QS) and the civil rights group the Red Coalition.

The political party and the organization have launched a petition on the website of the National Assembly to ask the government to modify this rule.

Bill 18 of the former Minister of Public Security, Geneviève Guilbault, planned to ban this requirement. But the new version tabled last March by the current Minister François Bonnardel – Bill 14 – does not take this aspect into account.

“We want to believe that this is an oversight in the resubmission of the bill and we want to give the runners a chance,” tempers the spokesperson for the Red Coalition, Alain Babineau, in an interview with Métro.

In Quebec, a permanent resident can practice law, medicine, teaching or become a firefighter, but he cannot become a police officer.

 The face of the police in Quebec must change. This discriminatory anachronism must be corrected.

Alain Babineau, Director of Racial Profiling and Public Safety for the Red Coalition.

An addendum to Law 14

The organization, under the sponsorship of QS MP Andrés Fontecilla, launched an online petition this week on the website of the National Assembly of Quebec. He calls for the addition of Canadian permanent resident status as one of the minimum requirements to be hired as a police officer in Quebec. The petition will remain open for signatures until July 27.

MP Fontecilla also announces that he will ask Mr. Bonnardel next week to add this question to Bill 14 on the police, filed March 15, 2023.

“I ask Minister Bonnardel to show common sense and follow up on our request. This would represent an important first step to ensure better representation of visible minorities within the police force,” believes Mr. Fontecilla.

According to Statistics Canada, police services in Quebec are among the most homogeneous in the country and do not represent the population they serve. In their briefs presented to the Advisory Committee on the Maintenance of Order in 2021, the Federation of Municipal Police Officers of Quebec (FPMQ) and the City of Sherbrooke admitted that in a diverse society like ours, “it is unacceptable that some large police forces have no visible or ethnic minorities in their ranks.”

The FPMQ calls on CÉGEPS to improve the process of recruiting people from diverse backgrounds in Police Technology. The government should also do its part, according to the Federation.

 “The Government of Quebec should fund a recruitment campaign in these communities for the next few years in order to make up for the delay of several police forces. Police forces do not have to bear the burden of recruitment alone, you have to be aware that it starts on the school benches,” writes the FPMQ on its website.

Accessible RCMP and Canadian Armed Forces

For nearly 20 years, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) has welcomed permanent residents into its ranks as officers. The Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), since December 2022, has opened up to non-Canadians and all other police forces in the country do so at present, with the exception of Quebec.

However, if we look at the private security sector in Quebec, the vast majority are residents or even asylum seekers.

Alain Babineau, former police officer from the RCMP

Recruitment challenges for the STM

As part of a new proximity strategy, the Société de transport de Montréal (STM) has trained a first contingent of special constables. In July 2021, a first contingent of around thirty officers who meet the same standards as police officers was sworn in. Before that, the STM had inspectors who carried out these tasks. The latter could be permanent residents.

The new regulations are hampering the organization's efforts to recruit workers. “We follow the rules of the Police Act with compulsory citizenship. This requirement actually brings more challenges in terms of the recruitment of our special constables”, recognizes the corporate and public relations advisor, Philippe Déry.

Contacted by Métro, the SPVM did not wish to comment, invoking the political nature of the subject. “Since this is a political issue, the Montreal Police Service will not comment,” said the Communications and Media Relations Division in an email to Métro.

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