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Plea to integrate permanent residents into Quebec police forces


Quebec is the only Canadian province that does not allow permanent residents to join its police forces.
Advocacy group the Red Coalition and Quebec Solidaire (QS) MNA Andres Fontecilla want this to change. 
Section 115 of the Police Act and section 4 of the Regulation respecting the education system of the École nationale de police du Québec (ENPQ) state that in order to become a police officer in Quebec, you must be a Canadian citizen.
"For us, these articles go against the rights contained in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms and constitute a discriminatory anachronism that must be quickly corrected, especially since the need for manpower is great," said Red Coalition spokesperson Alain Babineau. "Today, a permanent resident can practice law, be a firefighter or a teacher, but he or she cannot become a police officer or a special constable."
He noted that the Armed Forces have also accepted permanent residents into their ranks as of the beginning of 2023. 
The organization has launched a petition to change Quebec's rules. The petition is sponsored by Laurier-Dorion MNA Fontecilla, who is the QS critic for public security.
He pointed out that Quebec's police forces are the most homogeneous in the country and that they have, on average, only five per cent of members of diversity in their ranks.
MORE REPRESENTATIVES
The sections requiring Canadian citizenship are contrary to the Act respecting equal access to employment in public bodies to which police forces are subject, said Babineau, and represent a "barrier" to their representativeness, even though it is provided for in the Police Act.
Fontecilla said that the lack of ethnic diversity in the police force is a major problem. 
"The consequence of this lack of representativeness is clear: it undermines the trust of the general population, in particular the racialized population, in the work of the police."
CHANGE TO BE BROUGHT BACK
Prior Public Safety Minister Genevieve Guilbault presented Bill 18 in December 2021, which aimed to correct the issue by adding the status of permanent resident as a criterion for eligibility to the ENPQ or to become a police officer.
The bill died on the order paper and was reintroduced in a new version last March by the current minister François Bonnardel. However, the new bill does not include the government's commitment to allow permanent residents access to law enforcement jobs.
The Red Coalition worked to ensure the measure would not be forgotten, said Babineau.
Fontecilla has committed to proposing an amendment to the bill when it is considered by parliamentarians in a few weeks' time.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published in French on May 5, 2023.

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