Thank you, Mr. Speaker. In the Northwest Territories, we entrust the RCMP with the responsibility to support every citizen's rights to safety and security, and we also entrust them with the right to take away a citizen's liberty in response to unlawful activity. That is a tremendous power and responsibility. We are fortunate to have the service of a professional and experienced national police force and an RCMP division dedicated to community policing. However, it remains critically important that we ensure our policing services reflect the unique context of our territory and the diversity of our people, and respect the trust that we are all placing in them every day. The ultimate goal we are all working towards together should be safe communities where our citizens can thrive.
The Minister's Policing Priorities for 2020-2021 have been under development since April, and they were already in their final form when the ongoing challenges of systemic racism within law enforcement took centre stage around the globe.
As we are all acutely aware, the world has changed drastically over the past few months. While it may initially have been a global pandemic that illustrated the need for out-of-the-box thinking as it pertains to our justice and policing systems, it has been society's recent awakening to the reality of racial injustice that has driven this home. It has become apparent that innovation and reform are necessary in these systems and that the status quo is no longer acceptable.
We considered not presenting these priorities today through this statement but decided we cannot shy away from the painful reality of racism and a potentially difficult conversation about policing. I will proceed to present the policing priorities today, and I look forward to engaging in more conversations with the RCMP and with the Members.
For 2020-2021, the four themes of policing priorities are: first, promote confidence in policing services; second, adapt to changing enforcement and community policing landscapes; third, continue to improve the RCMP's response to vulnerable population; and lastly, operational and fiscal innovation.
Regarding the first priority, the need to build confidence and trust in those whom we have trusted with our safety is foundational. Confidence will come from trust; trust requires a relationship and mutual respect. It is also something that must be constantly and consistently nurtured and protected.
To serve communities effectively, it is critical to acknowledge, reflect, and learn from a past that has not always been characterized by mutual respect and to use those lessons to improve understanding, empathy, and cultural safety in how policing is done today. Some progress in establishing trust has been the creation of the Commanding Officer's Aboriginal Advisory. In addition, the NWT has an Aboriginal Policing Services unit within G Division, and the division's commanding officer has directed that all new members to a community must complete a personal biography to be presented to the community. They are required to attend a cultural orientation specific to the community where they have been placed, which includes meeting with local Indigenous organizations and elders. Such steps should be recognized, but that does not mean the work is done, and so promoting confidence in policing remains a priority.
Northwest Territories communities have made it very clear how much harm they witness in their communities, harm from alcohol misuse, drug trafficking, and bootlegging. Bootlegging and substance abuse have been identified on almost every community's community policing plan. In addition to further cracking down on illegal alcohol and drug trafficking, we've also identified the need for more effective enforcement of impaired driving legislation as a means to keeping our communities and streets safe.
The RCMP must continue to foster trust within communities to help residents feel more comfortable reporting illegal alcohol and drug trafficking and impaired driving, which will allow the RCMP to implement more effective crime prevention and enforcement strategies. Although we know that root causes underlying the misuse of alcohol lie in areas beyond the influence of police, their enforcement efforts are integral to the disruption of the illegal networks taking advantage of people who are living with mental health and addictions.
The Department of Justice and the RCMP are a first point of contact for the diversion of suitable matters to local restorative justice options such as the community justice committees. Restorative justice practices and principles have long been linked to more positive outcomes for both offenders and victims. By increasing the use of more restorative practices, the RCMP will play a vital role in identifying matters for youth and adult diversion early in the justice system process.
The second priority, adapting to a changing community landscape, is linked to the third, and this is to improve the RCMP's response to vulnerable populations.
The RCMP play a critical role acting as the first point of contact for many people experiencing family violence, by informing victims of their rights and connecting those victims to community supports. Recognizing that family violence rates remain consistently high in the Northwest Territories, it is essential that RCMP members and victim services workers continue to collaborate so that victims' rights are recognized and respected.
Mr. Speaker, I seek unanimous consent to conclude my statement. Thank you.
---Unanimous consent granted