When the new Community Safety and Policing Act (CSPA) comes into force in Ontario on April 1, the seven members of the Ottawa Police Services Board, including Mayor Mark Sutcliffe, will be learning some new skills.

They will now have to complete several programs designed by Ontario’s Solicitor General including training on recognizing systemic racism, respecting multiculturalism and understanding the rights of Indigenous groups.

Under the new law, OPSB members will be suspended from their duties if they fail to complete the programs. The ministry has not yet released details about the programs, and Ottawa did not receive information about the “Roles and Responsibilities” program as expected in February.

The training is part of a greater overhaul of policing in Ontario that has been in discussion for more than five years. The overhaul, for example, will allow police chiefs to suspend pay to officers in custody or charged with fireable off-duty offences. It creates a new inspector general to monitor police boards’ compliance with the law and it requires the OPSB to develop a diversity plan over the next year.

The police board was confronted by the urgent need to better understand the diversity of the Ottawa community when two adults and four children of Sri Lankan heritage were killed in their Barrhaven home less than a week ago.

During the meeting to discuss the act, Mayor Sutcliffe took the opportunity to thank the police and paramedics for their response to the killings of the Barrhaven residents, including four children.

“It’s our first public meeting since those events took place last week,” Sutcliffe said in the meeting. “I want to applaud the members of the police service and the members of the paramedic service for their dedication and professionalism in handling this event.”

OPSB chair Salim Fakirani echoed the mayor, adding that Ottawa Police Chief Eric Stubbs was an important factor in keeping the community informed. “The fact (he) said early on there was no threat to public safety … was a relief to the community.”

It wasn’t a total success however as the OPS and Stubbs have come under fire following the Barrhaven killings for a number of communication missteps, including reference to a “mass shooting” (there was no gun involved) and the misidentification of the suspect.

The one survivor of the attack, the children’s father, Dhanushka Wickramasinghe, is recovering in hospital.

The suspect, Febrio De-Zoysa, is being held in protective custody. He faces six counts of first-degree murder and one count of attempted murder.

A multi-faith funeral service for the victims will take place Sunday at 1 p.m. The public event will be held at the Infinity Convention Center at 2901 Gibford Dr. in Ottawa.