New security legislation will cost universities thousands

New private security measures recently enacted by the Ontario government may cost colleges and universities thousands of dollars. The legislation—designed to ensure security guards at retail stores, banks, and so on are properly trained—was not intended to apply specifically to educational institutions. However, the law will require special training for university many staff, including employees of campus bars and residences.

The new legislation was enacted in response to a coroner’s inquest into the 1999 death of Patrick Shand, who died of restraint asphyxia following a struggle at a Scarborough grocery store. The struggle involved an employee, a security guard, and an armoured car driver who were attempting to arrest Shand for shoplifting.

The inquest recommended stricter regulation of private security guards and professional standards to be enforced by the government. The Private Security and Investigative Services Act was updated to include mandatory licensing of all security personnel, mandatory training standards, and standards for uniforms, equipment, and vehicles used by security personnel.

The new act also broadened the definition of security guard to be "a person who, for hire or reward, guards or patrols for the purpose of protecting persons or property." This includes such campus jobs as bouncers at campus pubs, campus security personnel, and staff who monitor entrances at residences.

It is the inclusion of building access staff that will be the greatest cost for universities.

Many residences have staff to check that people entering the dorms are students who live there. In most cases, they are instructed to call campus security if an individual attempts to gain unauthorized access and to avoid confrontation. Often these employees are students. However, under the new regulations these staff will be considered security staff and will be required to be trained and licensed as such.

Before approving the legislation, the government heard that it would cost as much as $900 to train and certify each student to work as building access staff. At the present time, the government has granted universities a one-year grace period before they must implement the changes required by the new law.

The inclusion of bar door staff, more commonly referred to as bouncers, is of great concern to students’ unions that operate licensed establishments. Ryan Dunn, former president of the University Students’ Council at University of Western Ontario, asked the government to consider the differences between campus environments and the typical downtown bar when making their decision.

Dunn pointed out that most college bars are only open to students and their guests. "The university environment differs from a downtown environment. Most college and campus bars are segregated. Staff are trained to monitor situations; however, they rely on campus police if something is dangerous or force is needed."