News / Ottawa

Female officers 'aren’t treated equally,' Ottawa police chief says

Police Chief Charles Bordeleau told the Ottawa Police Services Board on Monday that the force is dedicated to improving work life for its female members.

Police Chief Charles Bordeleau

THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

Police Chief Charles Bordeleau

Police Chief Charles Bordeleau told the Ottawa Police Services Board on Monday that the force is dedicated to improving work life for its female members after an audit found equality is lacking.

“The women we hire and attract to our police force aren’t treated equally,” said Bordeleau, referring to the audit commissioned to look at things like recruitment advertising efforts and who is promoted through the ranks.

The report was part of a settlement after officer Barbara Sjaarda filed a human rights complaint in 2012. Sjaarda complained after her maternity leaves impacted her training and promotion opportunities.

The audit found there are 327 female sworn officers, around 23 per cent of the force’s total.

When the audit delved into who is promoted in the police force, it found women are less likely to be promoted and are disadvantaged by family status or maternity needs.

Some women surveyed raised concern about being relegated to patrol and “soft policing” like community officers, sexual assault, domestic violence and schools.

“The issue is attracting women to our policing is one challenge, but once they are in the organization is to make sure they have access to equal opportunities like their male counterparts,” said Bordeleau.

The next phase of the project will focus on new policies meant to equalize job promotions, including a human rights accommodation policy.

The deadline for creating those policies is May of next year, with training implemented by November 2017.

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