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Recap of the 2024 Police Association of Ontario AMC

We are excited to share a recap of our 92nd Annual Meeting and Conference (AMC) hosted by the Windsor Police Association last week. The event was a resounding success, bringing together over 150 members from 35 associations across the province. Here’s a summary of the key highlights:

Day 1: Opening Sessions and Leadership Insights

President Mark Baxter opened the conference with remarks on the evolving landscape of policing, mental health, technological advancements, and strong labour relations. His emphasis on the positive narrative shift around policing due to the Ontario government’s support set a hopeful tone for the week.

Premier Doug Ford delivered a video message, followed by an address from Attorney General Doug Downey, reinforcing the strong partnership between the Police Association of Ontario and the Ontario government. Mayor Drew Dilkens and Chief Jason Bellaire also expressed their support and appreciation for the police community.

Megan Buttle from Earnscliffe Strategies unveiled the Police Association of Ontario’s new brand identity. For those who missed the branding guide, it is available here.

Retired Colonel Mark Gasparotto delivered an inspiring key note on leadership, focusing on resilience and strategic thinking.

The business session featured comprehensive reports from the President, Treasurer, Audit Committee, and Executive Director, along with a farewell report from Michael Duffy, who will be leaving the PAO at the end of June. The day concluded with candidate speeches from Mark Baxter and John Brooks for the PAO President position.

Day 2: Workshops and Practical Discussions

Day 2 was action-packed with discussions, workshops, and presentations. Sessions covered best practices in WSIB procedures, board dynamics, strategic planning, and collective bargaining, providing members with practical tools and insights to navigate challenges and opportunities.

Day 3: Engaging Panels and Roundtables

A notable highlight was a roundtable discussion led by Mark Baxter and Michael Duffy on deploying special constables under the Community Safety and Policing Act. This session fostered a productive exchange of approaches and insights, and many members were able to share their insights and provide information about the provincial landscape.

In a panel on collective bargaining, Anne Brennan-Walsh, Jeff Chartier, and Kent Rice shared experiences from recent contract settlements, offering valuable perspectives.

The Ontario Policing Oversight Panel featured updates from Ryan Teschner, Carla Goncalves, and Joseph Martino, enhancing members’ understanding of policing oversight in Ontario.

Blake Hutcheson, President and CEO of OMERS, provided an update on the plan’s investments and outlook, ensuring members were well-informed about their financial futures.

Joe Markson discussed the latest in police discipline cases and anticipated changes under the Community Safety and Policing Act, offering crucial updates in this evolving area.

President’s Banquet and Police Hero Awards Ceremony

Members were joined by distinguished guests from across Ontario as we took an opportunity to recognize our own. President Baxter presented the John Walker Award for local association service to Steven Schmelzle and the Dennis R. Latten Award for provincial service to Michael Duffy.

Long-serving association leaders were also presented with their Harry DeJong pins for long-time service with Peterborough’s Jeff Chartier being the first recipient of the 30-year pin.

We were thrilled to announce the winners of the ninth annual Police Hero of the Year Awards, recognizing the exceptional individuals and teams who went above and beyond the call of duty to serve and protect their communities.

To view photos from the event and learn more about the inspiring stories of this year’s winners, please visit the official news release here.

Here are the deserving winners of the 2024 Police Hero of the Year Awards:

  • 2024 Community Role Model: Adam McEachern, York Regional Police Service
  • 2024 Police Hero Honour Roll Award: Andrew Gough, London Police Service
  • 2024 Extra Mile Award: Christine and Stephen Douglas, Barrie Police Service
  • 2024 On-Duty Difference Maker – Civilian Police Service Employee: Melissa Styles, York Regional Police Service
  • 2024 On-Duty Difference Maker – Uniform Officer: York Regional Police Service

Congratulations to all the award winners and finalists! More details about their inspiring stories can be found at www.policehero.ca. 

Day 5: Final Day Highlights

Nini Jones from Jones Pearce LLP provided updates on recent labour law cases and their implications for police bargaining units. Tom Stamatakis from the Canadian Police Association discussed national trends and priorities affecting policing in Ontario.

Building on a discussion from earlier in the week and a report from the Pensions Committee, the membership passed a resolution stating the Police Association of Ontario’s opposition to potential contribution rate increases for its members without proper consultation. The text of the resolution can be found here.

President Baxter also formally announced the awarding of honourary memberships to Solicitor General Michael Kerzner, Tom Stamatakis, President of the Canadian Police Association and departing Association Counsel Michael Duffy.

During the final session, Becky Verreault (Halton Police Association) was formally acclaimed to the Board of Directors, and the results of the PAO President election were announced. We would like to share that Mark Baxter was re-elected as President of the Police Association of Ontario. Congratulations, Mark!

Thank you to everyone who attended and contributed to making the 2024 AMC a remarkable event. We are excited to continue building on the positive momentum with our members across Ontario.

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