There is growing concern about the availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for first responders in Ontario as global stockpiles become strained. In addition to increased needs from the healthcare sector, police services have been similarly impacted as their interaction with the general public continues to increase. This has also been the case for officers working under the Ontario First Nations Policing Agreement (OFNPA) who are being used to enforce road closures and provide welfare checks for vulnerable individuals.
Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) liaison officers have provided limited information as to whether OFNPA officers will continue to have access to OPP stocks of PPE and sanitizer in the long term, particularly as OPP stocks become diminished. There has already been some discussion in British Columbia about closing First Nation Policing Program detachments should working conditions become unsafe due to lack of access to PPE.
OFNPA officers provide an essential service to First Nations communities whose safety and security is of paramount importance during this crisis. AIAI will be reaching out to government officials at Public Safety Canada, Indigenous Services Canada, and the Ontario Solicitor General’s office to advocate for equal access to PPE for First Nations officers, including those under the OFNPA. If you have any information or concerns related to First Nations policing and COVID-19, please let us know as soon as possible.