Ontario is making some major changes in an effort to boost police recruitment, including eliminating tuition fees and post-secondary education requirements.
Speaking in Etobicoke, Ont., Premier Doug Ford said there was a “growing wave of crime” in the province and, as a result, there is an immediate need to bring in reinforcements.
“People don’t feel safe. Some are scared to take the subway or to go for a walk once it gets dark and that’s wrong,” he told reporters.
“We need more police officers on our street.”
In order to encourage recruitment, the province will be removing tuition fees for the Basic Constable Training program at the Ontario Police College. This change will be retroactive to recruits who begin their training in January 2023.
The cost of this program is $15,450, the solicitor general’s office confirmed.
The province will also open an additional 70 spaces per cohort in the program, and add an additional cohort so that there are four groups of 550 officers graduating each year.
With 2,200 students, the cost of covering tuition is close to $34 million annually.
New recruits will also no longer need to graduate from a post-secondary education institution in order to become a police officer. Under the Community Safety and Policing Actas it stands now, a police officer needs to also have a university or college degree.
If new legislation is passed, this requirement will be eliminated.
Solicitor General Michael Kerzner said he hopes the changes will encourage more people “from all walks of life and backgrounds” to join the force.
“We want more people to have the opportunity to become police officers,” he said. “That’s what today’s announcement is all about.”