This country profile was migrated from the legacy system and the new text is under consideration of the respective government authorities.

Policing overview: Canada has three levels of police services: municipal, provincial, and federal. The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Canada’s national police force, is unique in the world as a combined international, federal, provincial and municipal policing body.

National Police

1. General information
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is the Canadian national police service and an agency of the Public Safety Portfolio (to view an organization chart of the Ministry, please view the document in the Attachments section). Currently the RCMP delivers: law enforcement and investigative services in relation to federal statutes; criminal intelligence, technology and support services for the broader police community; international policing duties as required; and, contract policing service in eight provinces (except Ontario and Québec) and three territories, approximately 200 municipalities and 600 Aboriginal communities.

2.  Functions and missions 
Throughout Canada, the RCMP enforces laws made under the authority of the Canadian Parliament. Administration of justice within the provinces, including enforcement of the Criminal Code, is part of the power and duty delegated to the provincial governments. The RCMP provides police services under the terms of policing agreements to all provinces (except Ontario, Quebec); Yukon, the Northwest Territories and Nunavut, and, under separate municipal policing agreements, to 197 municipalities.

3. Structure and organization
The RCMP is currently divided into 4 regions (Atlantic, Central, Northwest, Pacific), 15 Divisions (one for each province and territory, the Training Academy in Regina and the National Capital Region), and is headquartered in Ottawa, Ontario.Divisions roughly approximate provincial boundaries with their headquarters located in respective provincial or territorial capitals.

4. Staff data
The RCMP has a diverse workforce of over 25,000 people spread across the country. The workforce is composed of three categories of employees: regular members (more than 17,000), civilian members (approximately 3,000) and public service employees (over 5,000).

5. Education / Training
The Canadian Police College, located in Ottawa, Ontario, is a centre for professional learning for members of the Canadian and international policing community. For more information, please follow the link to its official website in the Links section below.

6. Oversight
Oversight/review is provided by two bodies: the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police External Review Committee (ERC).

  • The Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP (CPC) receives complaints from the public about the conduct of RCMP members. It reviews and investigates these complaints in an open, independent and objective manner. The Commission also holds public hearings and conducts research and policy development to improve the public complaints process. Established by Parliament in 1988, the CPC is an independent body, distinct and independent from the RCMP. The CPC provides civilian review of RCMP members' conduct in performing their policing duties so as to hold the RCMP accountable to the public. Its job is to help find and shape a balance between individual rights and collective security.
  • The Royal Canadian Mounted Police External Review Committee (ERC) is an independent agency that promotes fair and equitable labour relations within the RCMP. The ERC conducts independent reviews of appeals in disciplinary, discharge and demotion matters, as well as certain kinds of grievances.

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Provincial Level

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) provides contract policing service in eight provinces (Ontario and Québec are the exception) and three territories, approximately 200 municipalities and 600 Aboriginal communities. Newfoundland has its own provincial police force, but the RCMP provides contract policing in many communities. The provinces of Ontario and Quebec have their own police forces:

  • The Ontario Provincial Police is composed of a Commissioner, Strategic Services, Corporate Services, Field and Traffic Services and Investigations/Organized Crime.
  • Safety of Quebec: the administrative organization of the Sûreté du Québec (i.e. “Safety of Quebec”) comprises branches, each directed by a deputy director general, for Territory Surveillance, Administration, Criminal Investigations and Institutional Affairs. The Safety of Quebec makes quality police services accessible to all regions of Quebec, which ensure the security of citizens and their goods everywhere throughout this territory. The territory of Quebec is divided in ten districts (see organization chart in the Attachments section.)

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Municipal Level

Smaller Canadian cities often contract police service from the RCMP, while larger cities maintain their own force. A partial directory of municipal police forces can be found on the official website of the Canadian Association of Chiefs of Police (please follow the link in the Links section below).

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Criminal Justice System

1. General information
There are basically four levels of court in Canada. First there are provincial/territorial courts, which handle the great majority of cases that come into the system. Second are the provincial/territorial superior courts. These courts deal with more serious crimes and also take appeals from provincial/territorial court judgments. On the same level, but responsible for different issues, is the Federal Court. At the next level are the provincial/territorial courts of appeal and the Federal Court of Appeal, while the highest level is occupied by the Supreme Court of Canada.

2. Prosecution
If an accused is arrested by the police, certain procedures must be followed to protect his or her rights. When the police arrest or detain an individual, they must tell the person that he or she has the right to consult a lawyer without delay and explain the reasons for the arrest and the specific charge if one is being made.

Anyone arrested and held in custody has the right to appear before a justice of the peace or judge as soon as possible (usually within 24 hours unless released sooner by the police) to have pre-trial release or bail determined. Bail hearings are sometimes referred to as “show-case (should say show-cause)” hearings because the prosecutor usually must show why the accused should remain in custody. However, in certain situations the burden is on the accused to show why he or she should be released. If a judge decides on release, the accused may be released with or without conditions. Release on bail will only be refused if there are very strong reasons for doing so.

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