Image copyright Hamilton Police Image caption Hamilton police officers will be put through the new Ontario Training Excellence in Service model
People currently earning low salaries in Ontario are being given new incentives to take up new skill sets.
A government report found more than 400,000 full-time positions were currently filled by young people with a limited education, yet not enough to fund their training.
Police and fire are among those whose recruits will be able to take on additional skills to satisfy their licences.
The Liberal government hopes the measure will “ensure they are earning higher incomes and able to enjoy a better quality of life”.
The initiative will cover a range of courses including in commercial meteorology, concrete mechanical handling, human resources management, IT security and diagnostic radiology.
According to the ministry’s figures, in 2015-16, less than 16% of police and fire recruits were earning salaries below the minimum for skills in demand in the Ontario economy.
As well as better job prospects for recruits, the government hopes the initiative will eventually result in more police officers on the street.
Backing for the idea
Mafoom Hurairatne, the president of the Anglophone Muslims Association of Ontario, said he welcomed the new proposal as it would help build a strong workforce for Ontario.
“This model is exciting, so I will be interested to see the plans to implement it,” he told the BBC.
“While I cannot emphasise enough that it is only the beginning, it is a significant positive sign that we are growing and changing as a province, and most importantly that we are continuing to invest in the people who do the work, pay the taxes and serve the citizens.”
Images: Hannah Spilman/BBC The ROC Police Volunteer Program was set up in 1996 to introduce people from non-Anglophone communities to the work of police officers.
“We did our work with more than 200 non-Anglophone Police Volunteers who did their part to make sure the foundations were in place so those trained became fully professional members of the Ontario Police Service,” said ROC Chief Const John O’Rourke.
“When I became Chief Constable in 2015 I did everything I could to introduce new members of the ROC Police Service to a new police culture and in doing so, I expected a 30% uptake.”
He said around 400 ROC recruits had opted to take advantage of the new programme, which has already seen two dozen policemen certified to be forensic investigators.
“We are getting our first positive results and becoming a professional service,” he said.
“With successful this new training, we’ll have officers who are qualified to use their limited powers of arrest, analyse crime scene, and perform bodily functions without any fear of compromising their certification as a police officer.”
– This article was amended on 2 June 2018 to remove the incorrect reference to more than 16% of police and fire recruits earning salaries below the minimum for skills in demand in the Ontario economy.