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Nova Scotia Bill 22 leaves industry wanting more

Nova Scotia’s new private security licensing law fails to address the industry’s major concerns and will likely repeat the mistakes other provinces made, says a past chair of CSIS for the Atlantic Region.


August 24, 2010
By Canadian Security

“We wanted more. Their interest was to do it right now, as opposed to doing it right,” says Roger B. Miller, vice-president of operations at Northeastern Investigations Inc. “It’s very frustrating.”

The new Security and Investigative Services Act, Bill 22, which passed May 11, brings some big changes, including mandatory training and portable licensing.

While the industry wants legislated training, as well as increased standards and screening for security personnel, Miller says, the government has not yet disclosed what training will be required. The bill’s regulations have yet to be drafted.

“The industry believes the training will be based on the CGSB (Canadian General Standards Board) standards, so why not put that in the Act?” he says.

But the central problem with the law, Miller says, is that industry advice was ignored. While it was in the consultation stage, industry representatives formed the Security Investigators’ Alliance, a committee made up of CSIS, ASIS, CANASA, the Council of Private Investigators (Atlantic) and the Canadian Corps of Commissionaires (Nova Scotia). The group held an information session and met with government officials, including two justice ministers.

“None of what we proposed was ever accepted in the legislation,” he says. “Here you have government, who regulates the industry, not listening to industry. They just wanted to get it done as quickly as possible.”

Miller believes the government is simply following legislation brought in by other provinces to save time — to the detriment of the industry and public safety. “We know other provinces who’ve gone through this have had problems. You look at Ontario; from the time they enacted the legislation until they got it off the ground was two years. Why go down the same road and create the same problems? Why not do something better than has been done elsewhere?”

In addition, the new law fails to address technical security providers — alarm, CCTV and access control installers, and locksmiths — although the government had stated at the start that one of its goals was to cast its net over a broad range of security personnel.

“You could get out of jail today and legally start installing alarm systems tomorrow, and there’s no agency required to oversee that,” Miller says. “Industry begged for them to be included in the legislation, and repeatedly the answer was ‘there’s not enough time.’ ”

Licensing electronic security technicians, Miller adds, would have helped protect the public and given police and the RCMP an oversight agency they could deal with over a host of problems, such as the thousands of false alarms they receive every year.

The new law still covers only private investigators and security guards, though the categories include more people — the Commissionaires, in-house security people at malls and people who are employed directly (non-contract). It also for the first time requires bouncers to be licensed.

Another concern with the law, Miller says, is the introduction of portable licensing. Formerly, a person’s licence was attached to the employer, and if the person had another job, an employer could see where they were working. With a portable licence, a person can take the training acquired at one company and work somewhere else, including that company’s competitor, without the employer’s knowledge.

“That causes concerns in the area of conflict, in the area of equipment and in the area of uniforms. We issue you this stuff; you now have a licence. Are you going to take some of our equipment and go work for ABC company?” he says.

Miller says the committee put forth a modified portable licensing — one that would require a company to tell the justice department who it has hired — but the government has not responded. 

“I understand my passion,” Miller says. “This is my career. But I don’t understand the passion of government to push this through, to do it without accepting the expert advice of the industry — just to say, you’ve done because Ontario’s done it.”