The Manitoba government has set new regulations expanding the roles of safety officers to help improve public safety, and ensure appropriate and timely enforcement of provincial offences, Justice Minister Cliff Cullen announced Sept. 25.
“These regulatory changes build on the important work being done by safety officers and cadets across Manitoba, recognizing there is an opportunity to expand their role and keep our communities safe,” said Cullen. “We expect this additional avenue of enforcement will be increasingly important as cannabis is legalized this fall.”
The changes will permit community safety officers (CSOs), First Nation safety officers (FNSOs) and Winnipeg Police Service (WPS) cadets and the river patrol unit to enforce provincial laws prohibiting cannabis use in public places, possession under the legal age of 19 and providing cannabis to someone under age.
Based on consultations with the WPS, cadets will also be able to apprehend people who are trespassing and enforce bans on tobacco smoking in enclosed places.
“The members of our cadets program do amazing work on the streets of our community,” said Chief Danny Smyth, WPS. “They receive extensive training and have earned a great deal of trust for the manner in which they carry out their duties. They know the community; they know the concerns and they can be counted upon to carry out these duties with the utmost dignity, respect and professionalism.”
Regulatory changes will also formalize the roles and responsibilities of the WPS river patrol unit, whose civilian employees provide a year-round patrol of the Red, Assiniboine, Seine and LaSalle rivers and other areas. In addition to cannabis-related offences, this unit will enforce provincial laws such as:
• transporting and public consumption of alcohol, as well as possession of alcohol by minors;
• the use of non-potable intoxicating substances including selling or offering these substances to a minor;
• taking intoxicated people into custody under The Intoxicated Persons Detention Act;
• restrictions and prohibitions set out under The Off-Road Vehicles Act; and
• some licensing restrictions and prohibitions, such as driving while disqualified or prohibited.
The minister noted changes to the roles and responsibilities for CSOs and FNSOs will help make these community-funded positions more closely aligned. As a result, CSOs can have their authority expanded to include apprehending people who are trespassing, and stopping vehicles and enforcing specific restrictions and prohibitions set out under The Highway Traffic Act. FNSOs will also have the authority to apprehend trespassers. These expanded enforcement responsibilities will require agreement from the community, local policing agency and the province to be implemented.
These changes come into effect on Oct. 17 to coincide with the legalization of non-medical cannabis.