Pricey privacy procedures in works

Tuesday, April 7th, 2009

Costly new training procedures are coming to Western’s campus late next year as new legislation by the Ontario Government comes into effect.

An update to the Private Securities and Investigative Services Act means that the employees of The Spoke, The Wave, and the door staff of Western’s residences will be held to rigorous new training standards.

The update overhauls legislation enacted in 1966, a move Grant Cockburn from the Government’s Private Security & Investigative Services Branch (PSIS) says will “improve public safety.”

“[The Ministry of Community Safety, responsible for overseeing the act,] is looking to both improve public safety and improve the professionalism of the private security industry.”

The old legislation came under fire after a coroner’s inquest into the 1999 death of Patrick Shand, who died of postural asphyxia following a struggle with employees at a Scarborough grocery store.

The inquest called for stricter regulations of the private security industry to be enacted by the government.

The new legislation includes mandatory licensing and training of all security personnel, standards for uniforms, equipment, and vehicles used by security personnel.

The Act also broadened the definition of security guard: “A person who, for hire or reward, guards or patrols for the purpose of protecting persons or property.” Now campus positions such as bouncers at campus bars, campus security personnel and residence staff who monitor entrances are included.

Despite good intentions, the Act may have overlooked certain facts. Although the new legislation includes a grace period to allow businesses and institutions to comply, the Ministry will not be providing money to assist the transition.

Andrew Mes, general manager of The Spoke and The Wave, elaborated.

“There is certainly a need for standardized training, but it doesn’t seem like a lot of thought was put into the legislation.”

Mes stated the legislation will not change the roles of his establishment’s staff, but said it does add complications.

“[The legislation] puts an undue cost on bars and restaurants.”

Susan Grindrod, the associate vice-president of Housing and Ancillary Services and Liquor Licence Coordinator, said she worried the new legislation may result in a reduction of student employment on campus. Students constitute the bulk of staff hired to check in residents at night.

“We will have to wait for the regulations to come out in order to see what we have to do. We employ a lot of Western students right now, but we may need to contract out for staff.

“I hope we don’t see a reduction in student employment,” she added. “[Student employees] are a great asset to us.”

Costs will be an important consideration for many institutions, especially with Maclean’s reporting figures as high as $900 per student for training.

However, the guidelines for the new legislation have yet to be published, and PSIS is not willing to say the costly practice of contracting out training and testing is the only way to come under compliance.

“It is possible that training could be carried out in-house,” Cockburn said. “That decision will be made when we publish the information on testing and training later this fall.”

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