Portage City Council has approved the submission of a resolution advocating for "Institutional Safety Officer" positions to be established in Manitoba hospitals. Councillor Colin Doyle explains the proposal will now advance to the Association of Manitoba Municipalities and their lobbying efforts will aim to see the positions funded by the provincial government.

Doyle describes the role as similar to the recently established Community Safety Officer positions in Portage. He points out that hospital-based safety officers would possess the authority to detain individuals which is a capability that existing security services do not have. Doyle says it is this limitation that often forces the Portage RCMP to provide substantial hospital-based security services, diverting them from other critical community safety priorities.

"We're hoping the health authority will take the same initiative as we did as a municipality, but for the hospital. Just that other layer of policing, because it should not be on the municipal tax payer to foot the bill for someone who has entered the health system. Our hope is that they'll have somebody that the RCMP can turn the patient over to, so the RCMP can go out and continue to do the job that our rate payers are paying them to do."

Doyle says similar models have been successfully implemented in other regions. He is hopeful for collaboration between the province, health authority, and municipalities to develop these roles, with the aim of improving safety services in all sectors of the City of Portage. "It's top of mind for us because of the amount of overtime we are seeing with the RCMP that doesn't get covered by the province."