- Legal Services
- Policing in Ontario
The Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services is responsible for law enforcement services in Ontario. This includes the local and provincial police force, correctional centres, parole boards, public safety and disaster management. Police are accountable to the public and are governed by municipal, provincial, and federal government agencies. In Canada, the police are separate from government and from the military.
- According to the Ontario Police Services Act, police services include:
- Crime prevention
- Law enforcement
- Assistance to victims of crime
- Public order maintenance
- Emergency response
- The police have a code of conduct to follow, which includes: Acting with honesty and integrity; treating people with respect; not abusing their powers; and acting in a manner that does not discredit public confidence in their service. If you feel that the police have done something wrong, you have the right to make a complaint. Find out more about How to Complain About a Police Officer or Police Policies in Ontario (available in various languages including Ukrainian).
- When police officers in Ontario are involved in incidents where someone has been seriously injured, dies or alleges sexual assault, the Special Investigations Unit (SIU) has the power to conduct investigations. The SIU decides if a criminal offence took place.
- Municipal police services govern police services at the local level through policy, hiring, and monitoring police performance in Ontario.
The Toronto Police Service is divided into various divisions. To find your local police station, you have to determine which region of Toronto you live in. Here is a map of the police divisions in Toronto.
- The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is the Canadian national police service and enforces federal laws. The RCMP is unique in the world since it is a national, federal, provincial and municipal policing body.
The Court of Ontario
has two divisions:
- The Superior Court of Justice The Superior Court of Justice is a federal-level court (the highest in Canada), which deals with serious cases, such as criminal offences, divorces, civil matters involving large amounts of money, violations of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.
- The Ontario Court of Justice is a provincial-level court that deals with cases such as: preliminary hearings in criminal cases that will go to the Superior Court, violations of provincial laws.
- Within these two divisions, there are specialized branches. For example, Family Court and Small Claims Court are both branches of the Superior Court of Justice.
- If your court decision or ruling is questioned, that case can go to appeal. Many appeals are heard by the Court of Appeal for Ontario. This court is separate from other Ontario courts and usually provides the final ruling on a legal issue. An appeal on this ruling goes to the Supreme Court of Canada.
Criminal Court & Civil Court
- Criminal acts are those that go against the rules of the Criminal Code or against another federal statute. In Canada, a criminal act is legally seen as an offence against the state, even though there may have been a specific individual who was the victim of the crime. Examples of Criminal Code offences include:
· Impaired driving
· Break and enter
- Civil law deals with disputes between private parties or negligent acts that cause harm to others. Examples of civil lawsuits include disputes about:
· The terms of a contract
· Damage or injuries
- Depending on your case, you may wish to solve the problem outside of court.
Read questions to ask yourself before you sue.
For More Information
Guide to the Ontario Courts – provides guide links to the Ontario Court of Justice, the Superior Court of Justice and the Court of Appeal.
LawFacts.ca – provides information about going to criminal court in Ontario.
Structure of the Courts – An overview of the court system in Canada and the jurisdiction at each level. From the Canadian Superior Courts Judges Association.
CourtPrep.ca – This youth focused website includes a visual interactive court scene that can help people to anticipate what court proceedings look like. There is also information about the justice process and tips for witnesses.
Filing a Complaint – Describes how to file a complaint against a provincial judge or justice of the peace. It also has information on professional conduct standards and the roles of these officials in Ontario’s justice system.