Ontario offers Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service wage parity with provincial police force

Willow Fiddler
APTN National News
Canada’s largest First Nations police force in Ontario will now be getting paid on the same level as the provincial force.

First Nations police in the province aren’t considered essential services and they don’t receive the same resources, funding or standards as provincial police.

But now, they will be getting equal pay for equal work.

The chief of the country’s largest First Nations police service says his officers are ecstatic.

“Cause there really is no explanation for you know, the police officer gets the same training, does the same job technically and gets paid less,” said Chief Terry Armstrong of the Nishnawbe-Aski Police Service (NAPS).

Armstrong said the province held a conference call with all the First Nations police chiefs in Ontario.

“They’re going to sit down with us individually as police services and see how it’s going to look from within.”

In a letter to the NAPS board, the province offers officers full wage parity to the Ontario Provincial Police Association.

Last summer, the 135 officer service voted almost unanimously in favor of strike action – fed up with what they called unfair and inequitable treatment from governments that put officer and community safety at risk.

They avoided strike action – with a partial salary increase and 15 new officers who graduate next week.

Armstrong said this latest commitment is a huge step towards equality.

“This is a recognition of equality of officers and that’s how I look at it, it’s not just wage parity but it’s a step toward showing that you know, the officers are taking the same training and doing the same work
and they’re getting paid to accommodate that,” he said.

However, he said there is still much more to do.

“We still need to address the fact that we’re undercomplimented, that we need more officers so that officers don’t have to work alone, so we have proper rotations, proper compliment and proper
supervision of the compliment. So those kinds of things still need to be addressed,.he said.

The province says they have committed $20.7 million in initial funding for all uniform employees of First Nations police services to ensure they receive the same wages as their provincial counterparts.

NAPS says the legislation process to make First Nations policing an essential service will start in June.

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Video Journalist / Thunder Bay

Willow is an Oji-Cree Anishinabe from Sandy Lake First Nation. Her background is in print journalism and she studied multimedia before entering broadcast news . She is passionate about the stories of the Anishinabe in northwestern Ontario, particularly in the remote north.