Funding and research

Government of Canada's support to provinces and territories, law enforcement, research and public education to detect and deter drug-impaired drivers.

The Government has committed to creating new and stronger laws to punish more severely those who drive while under the influence of drugs, including cannabis. Proposed changes include new “legal limit” drug offences and new training and tools for law enforcement to better detect drug-impaired drivers.

To support these measures, the Government has committed up to $161 million for training frontline officers in how to recognize the signs and symptoms of drug-impaired driving, building law enforcement capacity across the country, providing access to drug screening devices, developing policy, bolstering research, and raising public awareness about the dangers of drug-impaired driving.

How the Government of Canada supports provinces and territories to prepare for the implementation of Bill C-46, An Act to amend the Criminal Code (offences relating to conveyances) and to make consequential amendments to other Acts)

Of the $161 million, provinces and territories will be able to access up to $81 million over the next five years for new law enforcement training, and to build capacity to enforce new and stronger laws related to drug-impaired driving. The government has been working with provinces and territories for some time on the issue of drug-impaired driving. By identifying the current enforcement capacity to respond to drug-impaired driving, the federal government, provinces and territories were able to identify gaps, such as the need for enhanced training, to better detect the signs and symptoms of drug impairment, and to identify the number of trainers, Standardized Field Sobriety Test (SFST) and Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) trained officers and oral fluid drug screening devices that will be required in each jurisdiction.

Federal government funding will be used to support provinces and territories until such time as revenues from cannabis taxation can be used by each jurisdiction to support public and road safety activities. Contributions will be made by the Government of Canada to provinces and territories for 100 per cent of approved activities for five years, based on each province or territory's contribution agreement. Federal financial assistance will be strategically distributed to provincial/territorial, municipal, and First Nations and Inuit police services to train current and new officers in SFST and DRE. Provinces and territories may, in turn, further distribute the funding to police services in their jurisdictions, allowing for increased training and training capacity to meet local needs, and to purchase oral fluid drug screening devices.

There are over 14,400 trained SFST officers across Canada (April 2018) and 1,213 certified DREs (February 1, 2020). Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) divisions, provincial and municipal police forces are working diligently to increase the number of trained officers while ensuring that there is a strategic deployment of trained police officers across each jurisdiction. The funding will allow provinces and territories to increase frontline officers trained in SFST to approximately 33% (currently approximately 15% of frontline officers are trained in SFST except Quebec, where all police officers are trained in SFST). It is expected there will be over 7,000 new SFST trained officers across Canada in the next five years. Provinces and territories have projected they will train up to 1,500 DREs over the next five years.

Under the contribution agreement, each province and territory is required to identify the number of trainers, SFST and DRE trained officers within their jurisdictions and the recommended new resources and devices, as well as a strategic implementation plan to ensure capacity throughout their jurisdiction to enforce drug-impaired driving offences. The plan will include forecasts for turnover, attrition, and promotions.

Some of the funding will also be used by provinces and territories to establish dedicated trainers/analysts who will develop standardized data collection and reporting that will be used to analyze trends, identify gaps, and provide an accurate picture of drug-impaired driving across Canada.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) to support law enforcement training

The RCMP will develop a new curriculum on “drugs that impair” that will enhance the current SFST curriculum. The RCMP will also develop training materials for oral fluid drug screening devices once they have been approved for Canadian law enforcement. The RCMP and Public Safety Canada will deliver up to five 2-day “train-the-trainer” sessions for provincial/territorial trainers, including one session for the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to ensure that police trainers are able to teach other police how to deploy the oral fluid drug screening devices. Each session will accommodate up to 25 trainees.

The RCMP is currently undertaking efforts to identify Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) certification sites in Canada to assist in training Canadian law enforcement. The RCMP will also develop ad hoc drug-impaired driving reports which will be provided to Public Safety Canada and used in the development of national reporting of drug-impaired driving incidents.

The Government of Canada has earmarked funding for the RCMP to provide assistance with the analysis and processing of blood samples of suspected drug-impaired drivers. The RCMP is working with Public Safety Canada to provide the Government of Canada with options on how best to allocate this earmarked funding in support of the proposed legislation.

The Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) to support training for Border Service Officers

The CBSA plays a role in interdicting impaired drivers at the border. As part of its mandate to ensure the free flow of legitimate people and goods, the Agency has the authority to detain and arrest people in violation of relevant laws. Since 1998, the CBSA has had authority under the Customs Act to administer screening tests to detect impaired driving at points of entry. Border Service Officers (BSOs) interdict and arrest approximately 350 drivers for alcohol-impaired driving each year across Canada's land points of entry. While BSOs have experience identifying persons driving under the influence of alcohol, they require training and equipment to detect drug-impaired drivers. Ensuring BSOs have adequate capacity to interdict drug-impaired drivers at the border is an important element in enforcing new drug-impaired driving legislation and increase the safety of Canada's roadways.

The CBSA will put in place 20 trainer positions to lead national training for more than 1,000 BSOs on SFST and “drugs that impair.” The CBSA will work with the RCMP to design a curriculum tailored to the Agency's mandate. SFST and “drugs that impair” training will be standard for new BSOs.

The CBSA will roll out oral fluid drug screening devices to all land points of entry across Canada and upgrade its current database to collect consistent data on drug-impaired driving at all points of entry.

The Agency will also develop ad hoc drug-impaired driving reports which will be provided to Public Safety Canada and used in the development of national reporting of drug-impaired driving incidents.

The Government of Canada's support to Public Education and Research

The Government of Canada is conducting a public education campaign to raise awareness of the dangers of drug-impaired driving. Public education and awareness campaigns are well established as an effective way to inform Canadians about health and public safety risks. Recent research indicates that Canadians, particularly youth, are not well informed of the effects of cannabis and other drugs on driving ability.

The Government of Canada will also fund research on the link between impairment, driving abilities and per se levels through a contribution agreement with an external research consortium, and develop new data collection and information-gathering practices and procedures with provinces, territories and federal partners.

Evidence-based information will be used to identify issues faced by law enforcement and to develop drug-impaired driving policy.

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