RCMP Progress Update on Recommendations from Mass Casualty Commission Final Report

March 27, 2024
Millbrook, Nova Scotia


Today, RCMP Commissioner Mike Duheme and Assistant Commissioner Dennis Daley, Commanding Officer of the Nova Scotia RCMP, delivered an update on the RCMP's progress on recommendations from the Mass Casualty Commission Final Report.

For more information on how the RCMP is implementing the Mass Casualty Commission's recommendations, and to read a copy of Taking Action: The RCMP's Strategy to Implementing Mass Casualty Commission Final Report Recommendations, please visit: RCMP response to the Mass Casualty Commission

Remarks from RCMP Commissioner Mike Duheme

– Check against delivery –

Good morning.

Thank you, Elder Paul-Martin, for the smudging and for sharing your words of welcome.

Thank you, Gui, for the land acknowledgement.

I also want to give thanks to Millbrook First Nation for the privilege of gathering here today.

I'm pleased to be joined by Assistant Commissioner Dennis Daley, the Commanding Officer here in Nova Scotia.

A year ago, I was here and I committed to make changes. I appreciate the chance to share some of the important work we've been doing to address the recommendations of the Mass Casualty Commission, also known as the MCC.

Before we begin, I want to take a minute to recognize those who aren't with us today, who lost their lives in a senseless act of violence almost four years ago, and who are deeply missed.

We remember:

  • Tom Bagley
  • Kristen Beaton and her unborn child
  • Greg and Jamie Blair
  • Joy and Peter Bond
  • Lillian Campbell
  • Corrie Ellison
  • Gina Goulet
  • Dawn and Frank Gulenchyn
  • Alanna Jenkins and Sean McLeod
  • Lisa McCully
  • Heather O'Brien
  • Jolene Oliver, and Aaron and Emily Tuck
  • Constable Heidi Stevenson
  • E. Joanne Thomas and John Zahl
  • Joey Webber

Please join me in a moment of remembrance.

Thank you.

I would like to acknowledge the families, including those who met with us yesterday. They have endured hardship that I truly can't even imagine, and they continue to persevere and honour the memory of their loved ones.

It's also important to acknowledge our RCMP employees here in Nova Scotia, who responded to this incident with courage and conviction, and suffered the loss of an incredible colleague. I am honoured to serve alongside you.

The MCC's findings and recommendations have significant implications for the RCMP, police services across the country, all levels of government, and Canadian society at large.

I want to reiterate my apology to the families, the people of Nova Scotia, RCMP employees, and all Canadians, that we were unable to keep everyone safe from harm. On behalf of the RCMP, I am sorry for the pain and suffering you have had to, and continue to, endure.

The Commission found areas that could have and should have worked better. My commitment is to make improvements and respond to the Commission's findings.

This is why I created the Reform, Accountability and Culture sector, which includes a team dedicated to addressing the MCC and other external reviews.

This sector is strengthening our response to our reform commitments, and helping us meet expectations of Nova Scotians and Canadians for an improved RCMP.

Of note, the team has examined each recommendation, undertaken analysis and research, and engaged subject matter experts, both inside and outside the RCMP. They have done a cross-walk with recommendations of other significant external reviews.

As part of our review, we've prioritized the recommendations that needed the most immediate attention and effort, and those with the most significant impact on the safety and security of the public, employees and the communities we serve.

The result is a long-term approach that aims to bring sustained change to the RCMP.

The strategy we published today on our website outlines work that began even before the MCC tabled its Final Report, dating back to 2020. It explains some of the work that is ongoing, and confirms that there is more to be done.

It is a demonstration of my commitment, and that of the whole RCMP, to respond to the MCC's recommendations.

Of the 130 recommendations, we are focused on the 33 under our direct control.

We are contributing to another 55 recommendations, where the work requires collaboration with our federal and provincial government or policing partners. For the remaining recommendations, we are actively seeking ways to contribute with governments and other partners.

Many MCC recommendations call for changes to policing. The RCMP is uniquely positioned to play a leadership role with police services across Canada and internationally.

We briefed the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police on our work at last year's general assembly. Our objectives were to explore ways to improve policing services across the country, and to bring police leaders together to discuss best practices in responding to mass casualty incidents.

As I share details on the progress we've made to date, I want to say that I'm pleased with what we've accomplished so far. A number of the recommendations have been completed, and we are advancing on many others.

I'd like to highlight some of this progress for you today.

First, we have been improving our overall approach to managing crises, which spans 29 recommendations.

Recognizing the importance of keeping Canadians informed about a threat to their safety, part of our work has been to rethink how we communicate during an incident.

We now rely heavily on Alert Ready. We have changed our national policies, updated our training, and will continue to monitor and strengthen them as needed and expected.

We have implemented Blue Force Tracking, which is now available to all members nationwide. This software allows us to see precise, real-time locations of our officers out in the field.

We have developed a Playbook on Managing a Critical or Mass Casualty Incident. This guide will better support our frontline personnel with exercise planning and incident response.

We have also developed an Operational Response Capabilities List — a searchable inventory of specialized skills and capabilities available at National Headquarters. This is essential to ensure a whole-of-organization response to a mass casualty or major event.

We have completed the review of our Initial Critical Incident Response training. This review will help inform the development of future training models to address gaps identified in the MCC's recommendations.

In line with the MCC's recommendation, we have a detailed report – which is available on our website – on how the RCMP recruits, trains and promotes senior officers. We have also produced an action plan outlining a number of initiatives underway to improve our management culture.

We have strengthened our uniform and equipment disposal policies, and improved our vehicle decommissioning processes.

While the RCMP has existing policies about being fit for duty, we are taking additional steps to ensure our employees understand their obligations around substance use when reporting for duty.

We have taken up the MCC's call to action to respond to the public emergency of gender-based and intimate partner violence. We are working closely with key federal partners, including Women and Gender Equality and the Department of Justice.

We will continue our work to improve capacity across the country to effectively respond to gender-based and intimate partner violence.

As part of our commitment to be accountable as we address the MCC's recommendations, we are an active participant on the Progress Monitoring Committee, providing them with regular progress updates.

We also continue to provide updates and work closely with the RCMP Management Advisory Board, who will hold us accountable for our progress. As part of our own transparency efforts, the RCMP has and will continue to post the Commissioner's responses to advice received from the Board on our website.

As I mentioned, I am pleased with the progress we've made so far, but we are by no means done. Change of this scale takes time – often much more time than we'd like.

Meaningful progress and long-lasting change require the full participation of all RCMP employees across the country. I've already seen that level of commitment throughout the RCMP, and you have my commitment on behalf of the organization.

Today's updates, the strategy, and a sample of our action plan are now available on the RCMP's website.

We're also developing a progress hub where you'll be able to find regular updates on the work that's underway. This is part of our commitment to be accountable and transparent.

I want you to be able to put your trust in the RCMP — knowing that our policies, processes, and training are sound and continue to evolve in line with expectations. Our number one priority is keeping communities safe.

When I accepted the job of RCMP Commissioner, I knew we could change. You have my commitment to continue on this path.

Before I turn this over to Dennis, I want to once again acknowledge the families, communities, employees, and first responders.

It can be extremely difficult to keep going back to an incident like this one, re-examining what went wrong and what lessons can be applied to future critical incidents. But this necessary work will save lives and make us better as an organization.

Thank you.

Remarks from Assistant Commissioner Dennis Daley, Commanding Officer of Nova Scotia

– Check against delivery –

Thank you, Commissioner.

Good morning. As Commissioner Duheme noted, I'm Dennis Daley, the Commanding Officer of the Nova Scotia RCMP. Thank you for being here.

I appreciate the opportunity to outline some of the changes we've made and will continue to make to improve our service to Nova Scotians and help create stronger, safer communities.

I've touched on some of this work in previous media interviews and spoken about it with partners and stakeholders, including the Progress Monitoring Committee. My intent today is to summarize key changes in critical incident response, public communications, situational awareness, intimate partner violence, and employee wellness – all topics addressed in the Mass Casualty Commission's final report.

Our Division has been making changes and improvements in the time since the April 2020 incidents. We fully recognize that while we can't change what happened in 2020, we can learn from it.

To be the police service Nova Scotians expect of us – and we expect of ourselves – we must constantly examine our work, learn from it, and make the important changes that need to be made. This is what we've been doing, and this is what we'll continue to do.

In the area of critical incident response, we've revised operational policy and procedures to improve the transition of command, ensure clarity around decision-making, and enhance training. With funding from the Province of Nova Scotia, we've also increased the size of our Emergency Response Team to be a full-time 18-person unit.

We've worked with our partners in the government and private sectors to ensure that when air support is needed, it's available.

We've established an Operational Communications Centre with the most advanced equipment and highly trained operators in the country.

And located beside the Operational Communications Centre is our Critical Incident Operations Room. This is a command post where the Critical Incident Commander, leads of the Emergency Response and Crisis Negotiation Teams, and dedicated senior police dispatcher are located – with full awareness of the incident and police officer locations.

We now activate a Strategic Communications resource at the outset of a critical incident too.

And we've increased opportunities to conduct and participate in training exercises with our policing partners and other agencies. These exercises strengthen not only our interoperability, but our relationships as well.

I mentioned that strategic communications is now a standard part of our critical incident deployment. We've also made additional changes to public communications, paramount among those is use of the Alert Ready public alerting system.

The RCMP in Nova Scotia has direct access to issue emergency alerts in a critical incident, and has issued 24 alerts since being granted this access in August 2021.

To support responsible, effective use of the system, we've established a divisional alerting policy, a robust training model and, after each incident for which an alert has been issued, we submit an after-action report to Nova Scotia Emergency Management.

The ability for responding police officers to know the locations of their fellow responding officers and for commanders to know the locations of all who are responding – what we refer to as situational awareness – is another key aspect of keeping people safe in a critical incident. It was also an area of focus for the Mass Casualty Commission.

We have overhauled our training on Trunk Mobile Radios, which is now mandatory, easier for officers to access, and incorporated into our annual training schedule. This ensures all officers are fully able to use the radios in any scenario they face.

The Commissioner referenced Blue Force Tracking. This technology allows for officers' exact locations to be identified and tracked in the Operational Communications Centre and the command post. This technology has been fully implemented in our Division, as has mapping software – increasing awareness of the situation and officer and public safety as a result.

With regard to intimate partner violence, our efforts have focused on working with multiple agencies at many levels to advance stronger, more supportive programs and services for survivors and their families.

Our victim services team is leading, or participating in, provincial working and task groups, which include service providers from across Nova Scotia on topics including coercive control; high-risk case conferencing; information sharing; mandatory arrest and charge; intimate partner violence alarm management; and case conferencing models, among others.

These are the collaborative, complex discussions that will result in the fundamental changes the Mass Casualty Commission called for – the changes that improve the lives of survivors and their families, and help make our communities stronger and safer.

While our focus is on working with others, specific to our Division, we've taken steps to increase the number of intimate partner violence investigators and case coordinators as well.

Our efforts to address the Mass Casualty Commission recommendations with the goals of preventing crime and creating stronger, safer communities, also includes continuing to build and foster relationships with our partners in policing, public safety, community services, health, and with community leaders.

We're making progress in this area. The number of multi-agency, multi-disciplinary initiatives we're participating in is growing, as is our outreach in communities, including African Nova Scotian communities and First Nations, at every level. And there's the collaborative work on intimate partner violence that I referenced moments ago.

The recommendations also call for us to do a better job of supporting our employees.

In Nova Scotia, we've increased wellness supports and improved mental health screening. This, along with our aggressive recruitment and retention efforts, is what will keep police officers on the front line and all employees working together to serve and protect Nova Scotians.

We've learned from the April 2020 incidents and we're making the important changes that need to be made to protect public safety and create stronger, safer communities.

Thank you.


Contact information

National Headquarters RCMP Media Relations

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