The Ontario government is making it easier for police services across the province to recruit and train more police officers by removing tuition fees for the Basic Constable Training program at the Ontario Police College (OPC) and immediately expanding the number of recruits that can be trained each year.
“Ontario is grateful to the thousands of brave women and men who serve as police officers across the province, keeping our communities safe,” Premier Doug Ford said. “To push back the growing tide of crime in our communities, we’re urgently getting more boots on the ground. That’s why our government is making the path to becoming a police officer as open as possible, expanding enrollment at the Ontario Police College and covering 100 per cent of the tuition cost for Basic Constable Training.”
To get more boots on the ground, the Basic Constable Training program at the Ontario Police College will be expanded immediately to accommodate an additional 70 recruits per cohort, from 480 to 550. Starting in 2024, the Basic Constable Training program will also be expanded to four cohorts per year instead of three.
Additionally, to support recruitment efforts at a time when local police officers have signalled challenges in doing so, the province is introducing legislation that, if passed, will eliminate the post-secondary education requirement to become a police officer, as set out in the Community Safety and Policing Act (CSPA). If passed, the act would amend the CSPA to provide that a secondary school diploma or equivalent is sufficient education for the purposes of being appointed as a police officer.
“These changes are good news for police services across the province, as well as for Ontarians considering a career as a police officer,” Solicitor General Michael Kerzner said. “We listened to the concerns about recruitment shortfalls and training limitations and have taken steps to remove barriers and expand the possibilities for those considering a career as a police officer.”
Ontario’s new measures complement other recent enhancements in Basic Constable Training at the OPC. Earlier this year, the duration of the training program was expanded from 60 to 66 days to accommodate immediate rapid deployment and active attacker and mental health response training for individuals in crisis. The college’s mental health response training for individuals in crisis provides police officers with the skills they need to work with on-the-ground supports such as mobile crisis response teams.
Under the Police Services Act, municipal police recruits in Ontario are required to complete the Basic Constable Training (BCT) program within six months of being hired. Ontario Provincial Police and Indigenous Police Services recruits also complete the BCT at the Ontario Police College.
BCT courses cover a variety of topics, including federal/provincial/traffic law, human rights, diversity and professional practice, leadership, ethics, mental health for first responders and for people in crisis, physical wellness and fitness for duty, community safety, defensive tactics, use of force and de-escalation techniques, firearms, and officer safety.
The elimination of the tuition fee for the Basic Constable Training program at the Ontario Police College will be retroactive to January 1, 2023. Recruits who paid for their twelve-week Basic Constable Training earlier this year will be reimbursed.