Horizontal Evaluation of the Family Homes On-Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act RCMP Component Piece
October 16, 2017
In collaboration with First Nation people, communities and groups, Indigenous and Northern Affairs Canada (INAC) developed legislation to address a long-standing gap regarding matrimonial real property on reserves. This legislation, called the Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act (Act), received Royal Assent on June 19, 2013. The first part of the Act, the First Nation law-making mechanism, came into force on December 16, 2013.Footnote 1 In the absence of First Nation laws, federal laws will now apply on-reserve in order to protect spousal rights and interests in matrimonial real property during a relationship, or in the event of separation, divorce or death.Footnote 2 Matrimonial real property (MRP) includes the land and anything permanently attached to the land, such as the family home.
INAC, Public Safety Canada (PS) and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) were the three federal partners identified to support the implementation of the Act from 2013/14 to 2017/18. INAC, as the lead partner, was to provide support for the implementation of the federal legislation and provide funding to a First Nation Centre of Excellence for Matrimonial Real Property and to the National Judicial Institute to support awareness and education for legal professionals. The role of the RCMP was to develop and deliver an MRP training course and material to its Regular Members. The role of PS was to provide contribution funding to eligible recipients of the First Nations Policing Program (FNPP) to facilitate MRP awareness and provide training tools for offiicers working in communities other than those policed by the RCMP.Footnote 3
As part of this initiative, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) committed to expending up to $2,716,952 of existing internal funding over five years to develop MRP training and educational materials for its police officers on reserves.
INAC was identified to lead a horizontal evaluation in 2016/17, in conjunction with the RCMP and PS, to assess the relevance and performance of awareness raising, training and capacity building activities provided in support of the implementation of the Act.
In accordance with the horizontal evaluation's Terms of Reference, the RCMP's National Program Evaluation Services (NPES) was responsible for completing a component piece providing neutral, evidence-based information on the extent to which the RCMP's awareness raising and training commitments were implemented, as well as on the results of those activities. This document represents the component piece that will be used to support the broader horizontal evaluation.
In terms of methodology, the RCMP, in collaboration with INAC and PS, developed evaluation questions in accordance with the 2014 Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act Performance Measurement Strategy. The logic model, which depicts the three partners' expected outcomes, is provided in Appendix A. The RCMP's NPES completed a document review, consultations with four detachments, and a financial review. In addition, evaluators conducted consultations with Members in four detachments that provide policing services on-reserve to the communities that were selected by INAC for case-studies.
Horizontal Evaluation Questions and RCMP Specific Findings
Horizontal Evaluation Question 1: Is there a continued need for INAC, PS and the RCMP to provide awareness raising, training and capacity building activities to support the implementation and enforcement of the Matrimonial Real Property (MRP) Act?
RCMP Finding: There is a continued need for tools and materials to be available for RCMP Members who serve and enforce MRP-related orders on reserve.
Two parts of the Act have key provisions for law enforcement: Emergency Protection Order (EPO), and Exclusive Occupation Order (EOO). Officers are to "assist the applicant in acquiring an EPO where available (i.e. the province or territory has designated a judge to hear applications); Serve and enforce all EPOs to protect the vulnerable people and to assist them to properly apply for an EPO (with regard to reserve land and family homes, located on reserve land); Serve and enforce EOOs; and/or, investigate any violations."Footnote 4 To support Members in understanding the implications of the Act, the RCMP developed training in the form of an online resource guide entitled, Matrimonial Real Property On-Reserves. This guide provides Members with links to the appropriate sections of the legislation and is intended to be a job aid that allows Members to recognize the situations in which to serve and enforce MRP orders, as well as an understanding of their duties and responsibilities under the Act including operational policies and procedures.Footnote 5
During consultations, one interviewee noted that it is important for Members to continuously be learning about legislation and areas that apply to them in order to foster trust within the communities they serve as often the community looks to the police for answers.Footnote 6 One interviewee also highlighted that although officer awareness of the Act is important, it is primarily the responsibility of community members to understand and exercise their legal rights.Footnote 7
Had an officer not accessed the specific MRP resource guide, it was determined that there was no risk to community safety. In the potential absence of MRP awareness training or in absence of a community member possessing an MRP-related court order, the RCMP has and will continue to rely on existing procedures when a respondent calls for service.
As demonstrated below in diagram 1, when officers respond to a call for service, they are able to protect a person and their home regardless of whether or not the Act is in place. An Undertaking document, created by either a court or the police, places the person being charged with an offence under certain conditions including promising to stay away from certain people or places until a court decision has been made.Footnote 8
RCMP Members continue to be trained in response procedures, as well as in legal and cultural reality of communities and therefore, the need for specific MRP training was determined to be an additional tool in support of officers who serve and enforce MRP-related orders on reserves.
Horizontal Evaluation Question 2: Do the awareness raising, training and capacity building activities to support the implementation of the MRP Act align with the roles, responsibilities, priorities and strategic outcomes of the RCMP?
RCMP Finding: The provision of training and awareness raising concerning on-reserve legislative changes amongst RCMP members aligns with the RCMP's roles and responsibilities, and with the strategic priority of contributing to safer and healthier Indigenous communities.
Contributing to safer and healthier Indigenous communities is one of the RCMPs five strategic priorities. To deliver on this priority, the RCMP continues to build on existing relationships and partnerships with the more than 600 Indigenous communities it serves by striving to provide culturally competent police services.Footnote 9 The RCMP is committed to continue building upon these relationships to encourage, sustain and foster honest and open dialogue with Indigenous partners.Footnote 10
To support its Members in developing their competencies for working on reserve, the RCMP provides an array of training through the online learning platform (Agora). For example, RCMP Members can access courses such as Domestic Violence Investigations and Aboriginal and First Nations Awareness.
To this end, the development and offering of MRP training and materials for Members serving on reserve, while working to build relationships with Indigenous communities, aligns with the RCMP's overall role and responsibilities.
Horizontal Evaluation Question 3: To what extent have awareness raising, training and capacity building activities to support the implementation of the MRP Act met their intended outcomes as outlined in the 2014 Performance Measurement Strategy?
RCMP Finding: The RCMP fulfilled its commitment to develop and deliver training to increase its Members' awareness of MRP law and social issues on-reserve.
It was agreed upon by MRP partners that "based on the diverse geographic locations of Members and the content to be delivered, online learning was the most effective means of delivering initial MRP training for the RCMP."Footnote 11 As a result, an online MRP resource guide was developed and the course training standards approved by the RCMP's Learning and Development Unit. The guide was then made available to all RCMP Members as of June 2014.
A review of data indicated that from June 2014 to September 2016, the MRP resource guide was downloaded by 281 Members. The highest percentages of downloads came from "K" Division in Alberta, "F" Division in Saskatchewan, "E" Division in British Columbia and National Division in Ottawa, which represented approximately 77% of the total downloads. Although evaluators attempted to assess the extent to which Members were satisfied with the MRP resource guide, none of the individuals that downloaded the guide completed the optional online satisfaction survey.
In addition to providing the resource guide to its own Members, the RCMP made it available, free of charge, to other police service providers throughout Canada through the Canadian Police Knowledge Network (CPKN). A summary report on course enrollment and outcomes from the Canadian Police Knowledge Network (CPKN) indicated that as of September 9, 2016, 129 non-RCMP police officers had completed the course and 236 were enrolled in the course.Footnote 12
The RCMP also engaged in additional awareness raising initiatives such as presentations on the new MRP laws with various key partners. This included a two-day workshop with RCMP Divisions, the First Nations Chiefs of Police Association (FNCPA), and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP).
Evaluators engaged in consultations with Members in four detachments that serve on-reserve communities in order to understand the utility of the resource guide. Through these discussions, it was evident that the extent to which an individual Member or Detachment is aware of the Act and the relevant orders is aligned to the level of engagement it has with the community and in turn, the community's level of engagement in discussions around the Act. Considering that Members change postings on a regular basis, it is up to individual Members and Detachment Commanders to be current on MRP training if it applies to their policing jurisdiction.
Horizontal Evaluation Question 4. Have there been any factors (external or internal) that have impacted on the achievement of expected outcomes (positively or negatively)?
RCMP Finding: An external factor impacting an RCMP Member's ability to apply their MRP knowledge is the reality that provinces and territories have not yet appointed judges.
An external factor impacting the opportunity for RCMP Members working on-reserve to apply their MRP knowledge is the absence of designated judges under ss. 16(1), 2(1) of the Act. At present there are only two designated judges in place; one for New Brunswick and one for Prince Edward Island. The ability of Members to apply what they have learned from the resource guide, as well as the need to seek out information on the MRP laws, is dependent on whether community members have the mechanisms in place to secure the orders. However, the RCMP has not yet been called to enforce either of the two possible judge-provided MPR orders. Furthermore, as demonstrated in the following decision-making flow chart,Footnote 13 without the appointment of a designated judge, the Act does not apply.
*Some provinces have not yet designated judges or advised they will not designate judges to hear applications for EPO's under the Family Homes on Reserve and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act. With respect to an EPO issued under Provincial or territorial law only, there is some constitutional doubt about provincial emergency protection enforcement touching on reserve lands/structures or occupancy rights. Policy by the federal government is under development in this area. In the interim, given the risk and immediacy of a domestic violence situation, in which a provincial Superior or other court has issued an order for police action and enforcement, the RCMP member will need to exercise his or her discretion to assess the situation and decide what action they deem necessary to be taken to protect the persons/property and preserve the peace.
Horizontal Evaluation Question 5. To what extent have awareness raising, training and capacity building activities to support the implementation of the MRP Act been conducted in an efficient and economical manner?
RCMP Finding: Within two years of receiving Royal Assent, the RCMP fulfilled its commitments while expending only 9% of the total estimated costs.
By June 2015, six months after receiving Royal Assent, the RCMP launched their online resource guide available to all RCMP Members on the internal training website, Agora. To achieve this, the RCMP committed to internally reallocating $2,716,952 of existing operating funds over five years to cover operating expenditures.Footnote 14 From 2013/14 to 2015/16, the RCMP expended $245,400, representing 9% of the estimated total, to staff two Full-Time Equivalents dedicated to developing the tool, and providing consultation services to RCMP Members.
It should be noted that at the time of the evaluation, one employee was performing the duties and the related technology costs to upload the resource guide and maintain the website were not tracked and therefore not included in the costing.
Although the commitment of internal funding is expected to end in 2017/18, the RCMP will continue to be responsible for the costs to maintain the online resource guide as well as having a point of contact available to address MRP related questions.
The RCMP fulfilled its commitments to provide its Members with access to information to support Members' awareness of MRP law and social issues on-reserve under the implementation of the Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act, expending approximately 9% of the total estimated costs. There is a continued need for tools and materials to be available for RCMP Members who serve and enforce MRP related orders on reserve. However, the RCMP's ability to serve and/or enforce MRP orders is impacted by the absence of provincial and/or territorial designated judges. Finally, the provision of training and awareness raising concerning on-reserve legislative changes aligned to the RCMP's roles and responsibilities.
Appendix A: Logic Model from the 2014 Family Homes on Reserves and Matrimonial Interests or Rights Act Performance Measurement Strategy
Note: Activities Stream #3 are activities shared by Aboriginal Affairs and Northern Development Canada, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police and Public Safety Canada.
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