The federal government has announced $17 million in funding over five years to fight drug-impaired driving in Ontario.
Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair announced the project on April 29, and it is part of $81 million in funding nation-wide to support “public and road safety activities.”
According to a release, projects will include “training in Standardized Field Sobriety Testing (SFST) and Drug Recognition Expert (DRE) evaluation; establishing dedicated trainers to deliver new and refresher training; and the purchase of approved drug screening devices.”
“Far too many Canadians continue to risk their lives and the lives of others by driving while impaired by cannabis or other drugs,” said Blair. “The measures we are taking gives officers the tools, training and resources they need to detect impaired drivers, get them off our roads and keep our communities safe. The combination of Canada’s strict new impaired driving legislation and these new tools for frontline law enforcement mean that anyone who drives impaired will be caught and face serious legal consequences. Don’t drive high.”
The new funding will also be used to develop standardized data collection and reporting practices that will be used to analyze trends, identify gaps and provide an accurate picture of drug-impaired driving in the province, and across Canada.
Blair also unveiled the next phase of the Government of Canada’s Don’t Drive High public awareness campaign to emphasize to Canadians the risks associated with driving under the influence of cannabis and other drugs. Canadians will be able to see the ads in public spaces, on social media, on television and in movie theatres.
Andrew Murie, CEO of MADD Canada, praised the funding.
“Drug-impaired driving spares no one – whether you use cannabis, illegal drugs, some prescription and over-the-counter medications – the devastating consequences are the same,” said Murie. “We fully support the partnership between the Government of Canada and the Province of Ontario to provide more resources for law enforcement to crack down on these dangerous drivers, and we encourage Canadians to heed the message of the Don’t Drive High campaign and be safe.”
Impaired driving ruins lives. @ChiefMcGuire & #OACP Board member @marksaunderstps were pleased join @BillBlair & @SylviaJonesMPP at an announcement of $17 million in federal funding for Ontario to ensure officers have the tools & training to detect and stop impaired drivers. pic.twitter.com/ybhBiTk6BT— The OACP (@OACPOfficial) April 30, 2019
According to a Government of Canada release, impaired driving is the number one cause of criminal death in Canada, costing hundreds of lives and thousands of preventable injuries each year.
Quick Facts from Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness Canada:
- Of Canadians reporting cannabis use, 28 per cent reported they have operated a vehicle while under the influence.
- There are over 14,400 trained SFST officers across Canada (November 2018) and 935 certified DREs (February 1, 2019).
- For this agreement, Ontario has established a training objective of 1,955 officers trained in SFST for 2018-2019 and up to 6,700 officers over three years to bring the capacity to 50 per cent of frontline officers.