MEMBER RESTRICTED ACCESS

Police Services Boards – Remote Meetings

Greeting Colleagues,

I trust that everyone is taking the necessary precautions to stay healthy and safe in these trying times.

In addition to monitoring police pandemic plans and operational measures, police boards may be faced with pressing matters requiring decisions. To this end the Solicitor General’s team has clarified that police boards may indeed hold meetings virtually, which should be particularly easy for in-camera matters. Here are their comments: 

  • The Police Services Act outlines the duties of police services boards with respect to board meetings, while requiring each board establish its own rules and procedures in performing its duties under the Act. 
  • While this is ultimately a local decision, the ministry is taking this opportunity to provide clarification that may support boards in continuing to meet via alternative methods in absence of the ability to meet in-person.
  • Notably, the PSA does not require that police services board meetings be held in-person.
  • While police services board meetings are to be open to the public, there is flexibility for public meetings to be held virtually if a board deems this be appropriate if the virtual meeting can be made open to the public.
  • With respect to board meetings conducted virtually, police services boards should take all feasible measures to facilitate public and media participation in open meetings.  
  • Further a board may choose to delegate any authority conferred on it within the PSA to two or more of its members (or one member in the case of collective bargaining). Boards are encouraged to consider reviewing their rules and procedures, taking into account the ability to delegate, should it be facing challenges in arranging for all members to participate in decision-making at this time.
  • Of note, there are specific circumstances that allow for issues to be discussed in-camera and these circumstances remain in-force during the emergency:
    • A board may exclude the public from all or part of a meeting if it is of the opinion that:
      • matters involving public security may be disclosed and, having regard to the circumstances, the desirability of avoiding their disclosure in the public interest outweighs the desirability of adhering to the principle that proceedings be open to the public; or
      • intimate financial or personal matters or other matters may be disclosed of such a nature, having regard to the circumstances, that the desirability of avoiding their disclosure in the interest of any person affected or in the public interest outweighs the desirability of adhering to the principle that proceedings be open to the public.
  • Police Services Advisors remain available via e-mail and telephone to work with boards during this time and boards are encouraged to continue to reach out to your local advisor as needed. However, as the ministry cannot provide legal advice, boards may also wish to reach out to their legal counsel if legal advice is required.

 

We will continue to keep everyone apprised as things continue to evolve. In the meantime, please note that the Solicitor has published 6 All Chief & Chairs memos since the pandemic started. We have them all posted at https://oapsb.ca/members/education-training/chiefs-memos/ for your reference.

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