Canada invests $17 million to keep Ontario’s roads safe from drug-impaired drivers

From: Public Safety Canada

April 29, 2019

Toronto, Ontario

Public Safety Canada

Impaired driving is the number one cause of criminal death in Canada, costing hundreds of lives and thousands of preventable injuries each year. The Government of Canada is providing law enforcement access to new technologies, additional resources and the training they need to detect and prosecute drivers impaired by drugs or alcohol. The greater likelihood of getting caught and facing the serious consequences of this crime will make our roadways safer.

Today, the Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction, the Honourable Bill Blair, announced $17 million over five years for projects in Ontario to support frontline police officers. Projects 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.

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. The funding is part of the $81 million announced by the Government of Canada for provinces and territories to support public and road safety activities.

Minister Blair also unveiled the next phase of the Government of Canada’s Don’t Drive High public awareness campaign to emphasise 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.

“Far too many Canadians continue to risk their lives and the lives of others by driving while impaired by cannabis or other drugs. 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 Honourable Bill Blair, Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction

“Impaired driving is a dangerous criminal offence that will not be tolerated in Ontario. Getting behind the wheel while impaired by alcohol or cannabis puts you at odds with the vast majority of your fellow citizens who take the safety of themselves and others seriously. Police are on the front lines of the fight to make our roads safe, and our government will continue to support them in this imperative work.”

– The Honorable Sylvia Jones, Solicitor General of Ontario

“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. 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.”

– Andrew Murie, Chief Executive Officer, MADD Canada

Quick facts

  • 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.

  • The public awareness campaign will continue to engage young Canadians and leverage partnerships with other levels of governments and organizations that are working toward the same goal to eliminate drug-impaired driving on Canadian roads.

/Public Release. View in full here.