MPA Major Research Papers

Who Watches the Police: Exploring Reforms for Ontario’s Police Services Boards Appointments Processes

Graham Taylor, Western University


Ontario’s Police Services Boards (PSBs) are local bodies that oversee the provision of policing services in Ontario’s communities through the Community Safety and Policing Act. They are at a critical turning point, where new legislation will soon oversee them, bringing with it a major overhaul to Ontario’s police governance. While these legislative changes bring with them many new reforms, such as mandated board member training on issues relating to diversity and inclusion, this research focuses on two areas that were not included in the legislative changes, but which many feel should have been: term limits for non-council PSB members and reforming the process, seen by some as overly partisan, by which provincial appointments to Ontario’s PSBs are made through the Public Appointments Secretariat (PAS). This research paper assesses PSB member tenure through information provided by an industry association. It also assesses the provincial political donation history of appointments made by the PAS to assess the politicization and partisanship associated with these appointments. It was discovered that PSB members in Ontario serve an average of 4.68 years, and that 45.4 per cent of appointees to the “Big 12” PSBs have a history of donating to the governing party prior to or during their appointment. This research recommends that Ontario not implement a term limit for PSB members at this time, but that the provincial appointments process through the PAS be reformed to focus on the skills and competencies needed to perform police governance oversight.