Article by Dilshad Burman, CityNews
The federal government will provide Ontario with funding to fight drug-impaired driving and deter drivers from getting behind the wheel while high.
Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction Bill Blair announced Monday that the government will give the province $17 million over five years to support various anti-drug driving initiatives.
Blair said 40 per cent of all front line police officers in Ontario will have up-to-date standardized field sobriety testing skills by 2021, thanks in part to the newly announced funding. Solicitor General Sylvia Jones added that 6,916 officers are expected to receive training in standard field sobriety testing and 660 officers will be trained as drug recognition experts.
The funds will also be used to buy approved oral fluid screening devices and hire analysts who will contribute to standardized data collection and reporting practices.
Currently only one roadside drug screening device has been approved for use in Canada, but Blair announced a second device will soon be federally approved. The new device is currently going through its initial 30 days of testing and will be made available to law enforcement across the country shortly.
Sgt. Kerry Schmidt tells CityNews the Ontario Provincial Police has purchased 23 of the previously approved Drager 5000 roadside drug testing devices. Front line officers are currently being trained and he says the devices are expected to be on the roads by the end of May.
Along with funding, Blair also revealed a new ad campaign aimed at making people even more aware of the dangers and consequences of driving high.
“We know that people are deterred by a greater likelihood that they will in fact get caught and that there will be significant and serious consequences for getting caught,” said Blair. “Public education and awareness are an important piece of the puzzle.”