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Ottawa gives NWT $1.5M to get drugged drivers off the road

A file photo of RCMP vehicles outside the Yellowknife detachment
A file photo of RCMP vehicles outside the Yellowknife detachment. Sarah Pruys/Cabin Radio

Police in the Northwest Territories will receive almost $1.5 million over five years to improve testing for drug-impaired driving.

Former Toronto police chief Bill Blair, now the federal minister for organized crime reduction, announced the funding on Monday.

Ottawa also announced $2.2 million over five years to tackle gun and gang violence in the NWT, including a strategy, better intelligence sharing, and more capacity in small communities to deliver interventions for youth and adults at risk.

Meanwhile, the federal government said “far too many Canadians are risking their lives and the lives of others” by driving after using cannabis or taking other drugs.



The $1.5 million fund will be spent on training for front-line officers in roadside testing, known to RCMP as standardized field sobriety testing or SFST.

RCMP in the NWT expect 69 officers to be trained in SFST and another 61 to receive a refresher course with the funding. Four new drug recognition experts, who evaluate suspected drug-impaired drivers, will also be trained.

Police will also “develop standardized data collection and reporting practices that will be used to analyze trends, identify gaps, and provide an accurate picture of drug-impaired driving in the territory, and across Canada,” a federal news release stated.

There were 4,423 drug-impaired driving offences documented by police across Canada in 2018, a year-on-year increase of 929.

The rate of drug-impaired driving (12 per 100,000 people) remains low compared to alcohol-impaired driving (177 per 100,000) though, last year, rates of drug-impaired driving increased everywhere except Nunavut and Newfoundland and Labrador.