Cops are busting unlicensed security guards and businesses for hiring them, but the owner of an Ottawa security company says the province is to blame.
“It takes, right now, about three months for a security guard to get their licence, which is absurd,” said the owner, who doesn’t want to be named.
“It’s a complete gong show, they’ve screwed it up.”
Provincial police laid 91 charges related to security guards over the Canada Day long weekend against businesses and individuals in Ottawa.
Offences include 44 counts of employing an unlicensed security guard, 22 counts of working as an unlicensed security guard, 19 uniform violations, four counts of being an unregistered business and two counts of operating an unlicensed business entity.
“In some places we go to, some security guards are licensed, some are waiting for their licences,” said OPP Staff Sgt. Rick LePage from the anti-rackets branch.
A few businesses are repeat offenders.
“One location — we had been there at least two times in the past and laid charges — and we went back this time. They had eight security (guards) working and not one of them was licensed,” said LePage.
With summer festivals in full swing, business owners and guards are expressing frustration over the slow process.
Ministry of community safety and correctional services spokesman Brent Ross said they’re experiencing, “a higher than usual volume of applications and inquiries from the public, which was complicated further by the Canada Post labour dispute.”
New provisions came into effect about four years ago making individual security guards — not employers — responsible for their own licence, allowing them to move from job to job without having to get re-licensed.
“A guard can work for me by day and another company by night,” said Jean Taillon, president and CEO of G4S, which employs 600,000 security staff worldwide.
The training and testing regulations came into effect in April 2010.
Security guards have to take a 40-hour training course with a ministry-approved curriculum, write and pass a test, and have a background check done.
In total, they spend about $600 to qualify for a job that pays $11 an hour, on average.
Ontario licences have to be renewed each year.
Incomplete applications or those containing inaccurate information can cause delays.
“Results from criminal background checks can also be a factor,” said Ross.
“Applications submitted less than 30 days before license expiry further complicate processing.”
The crackdown was the OPP’s 36th sweep this year.