Private Security and Investigative Services Branch Annual Report 2021
Read the report and learn about milestones and accomplishments during 2021.
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Message from the Solicitor General
On behalf of the Ontario government, I want to thank every person who has chosen a career in the private security and investigative services industry, contributing every day to the safety of our communities. This industry plays a crucial role in supporting the ministry’s public safety mandate.
In 2021, the ministry worked hard to build better, safer communities. One of Private Security and Investigative Services Branch’s key achievements last year was the implementation of the Compliance Inspection Strategy. The strategy expanded authority to inspectors, enhancing their effectiveness in safeguarding regulatory compliance.
The branch also reduced the burden for businesses by extending licence and registration terms from two to three years for business entities and registered employers. This action enabled businesses to save time and money by reducing how often they are required to submit a licence application.
As we look forward, we will continue to build upon successes and actively work to modernize service delivery and strengthen industry oversight. With the help of industry stakeholders, we will continue to deliver on government priorities and work together to keep Ontario communities safe.
Signed in original
Message from the Registrar
I am pleased to share the Ontario Ministry of the Solicitor General’s Private Security and Investigative Services Branch’s 2021 Annual Report highlighting milestones and accomplishments achieved during the past calendar year.
I would like to acknowledge and thank our stakeholders for their commitment to enhancing public safety in Ontario. Industry engagement has been instrumental in informing key initiatives to enhance regulatory oversight, modernize services to the industry, and shape the future of public safety in Ontario.
2021 was another busy year for the Private Security and Investigative Services Branch, one in which the private security and investigative services industry has continued to experience substantial growth.
One key initiative to support the industry was the official launch of online testing for security guards and private investigators on January 18, 2021. This program enhancement represented a critical milestone in the ministry’s testing program and responded to an industry request, providing Ontarians with an additional testing option that is more convenient. It also provided increased access to testing when in-person testing was not available, particularly for those in northern and remote communities.
The branch also embarked on several major initiatives to improve oversight and support to the industry. This included making sure all new agencies are contacted and inspected within six months of obtaining a licence to ensure the legislation and regulatory requirements are understood. It also included expanding the number of compliance checks, with a focus on education, as well as targeting enforcement efforts on repeated non-compliant agencies.
A collaborative approach with our stakeholders is critical to the success of our initiatives and developing innovative regulatory programming to support public safety. We are grateful to our partners and committed to being an effective and responsive regulator of the private security and investigative services industry in Ontario.
We look forward to the exciting work ahead.
Signed in original
Private Security and Investigative Services
Private Security and Investigative Services Branch overview
The Ministry of the Solicitor General’s Private Security and Investigative Services Branch (PSISB) regulates Ontario’s private security industry and licences security guards, private investigators, and the agencies that employ them. It also registers businesses that directly employ security guards and private investigators.
PSISB is responsible for administering and enforcing the Private Security and Investigative Services Act, 2005 (PSISA), which provides the legal and regulatory framework for Ontario’s private security and investigative services industry.
PSISB ensures security guards, private investigators, licensed agencies, and registered employers carry out their work professionally, safely, and lawfully across Ontario through:
- mandatory training and testing requirements
- mandatory licensing for the industry
- a formal public complaints process
- compliance inspections for licensed agencies and licensed individuals
- enforcement of the PSISA through investigations that may result in cautions or the laying of Provincial Offences Act charges.
PSISB delivery on its mandate is informed by engagement with the industry, provincial regulatory counterparts, and private security registrars across Canada.
PSISB’s oversight role is part of the ministry’s public safety mandate that ensures Ontario's communities are supported and protected by law enforcement, and that public safety and correctional systems are safe, effective, efficient, and accountable.
To be a modern, agile, and effective regulator of the private security and investigative services industry in Ontario.
To serve the people of Ontario through effective oversight of the private security and investigative services industry to support the ministry's public safety mandate.
These principles guide engagement with our partners, stakeholders, and employees, and are consistent with the Ontario Public Service (OPS) Regulator’s Code of Practice.
Private Security and Investigative Services program modernization
In summer 2021, an independent program review was conducted to assess the current legislation, identify program gaps, and prioritize areas for increased efficiency. As the Ontario regulator of the private security and investigative services industry, PSISB’s vision is to become a modern, agile, and effective regulator of the private security industry.
Goals of program modernization:
- Better service: Streamline processes to improve efficiency and transparency of compliance activities and reduce administrative burden.
- Modernized programs: Improve effectiveness of programs by responding to industry needs.
- Expanded oversight: Exercise appropriate, risk-based oversight of the evolving private security guard and investigative services industry.
Several key initiatives are underway as a result of the program review to address recommendations in the areas of training, testing, licensing services, and compliance and enforcement and we look forward to providing more information on these changes in the coming months.
2021 private security industry in Ontario at a glance
Regulated industry: December 2021
dual (security guard and private investigator)
licenced agencies and registered employers
Individuals comprise most of the licences with 112,333. There are 958 licenced agencies and 358 licenced registered employers.
Security guard and private investigator tests booked: 49,011
Security guard agency licenses issued: 241
Private investigator agency licences issued: 124
Dual agency licenses issued: 92
Inspections completed: 355
Investigations completed: 198
Ontario private security industry workforce
According to the latest available data from Statistics Canada, in 2021 the median income for security guards, private investigators and related security service occupations was $34,444. Median hourly wages for those in the profession reached $16.56 per hour by the fourth quarter of 2021
- communication skills (47%)
- customer service skills (44%)
- teamwork skills (24%)
- knowledge of first aid (23%)
Niche skills for this occupation include:
- knowledge of French language (10%)
- knowledge of closed-circuit television (CCTV) systems (6%)
- knowledge of the Occupational Health and Safety Act (6%)
Niche skills specific to private investigators include:
- attention to detail (20%)
The occupational outlook for security guards and related security service occupations are above average according to Ontario Labour Market forecasting
Private Security and Investigative Services program highlights
Training and testing
Training and testing are an integral part of the ministry’s oversight of the private security and investigative services industry. The program aims to ensure that individuals entering the industry are properly equipped with the knowledge and skills to do their jobs safely, effectively, and professionally.
To be eligible to apply for a security guard and/or private investigator licence, applicants must have successfully completed a training program that complies with the ministry syllabus. For security guard candidates, this includes certification in emergency first aid, including cardiopulmonary resuscitation.
First aid training must be delivered by a St. John Ambulance certified instructor, or a first aid trainer approved by the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (Ontario) (WSIB) and delivered in-person for no less than 6.5 hours.
Training can be provided by one of five entities:
- public university
- college established under the Ontario Colleges of Applied Arts and Technology Act, 2002
- private career college registered under the Private Career Colleges Act, 2005
- licensed business entity
- registered business entity that employs the applicant or that has made a conditional offer of employment to the applicant.
In 2021, PSISB took measures to strengthen oversight of training delivery across the province by:
- increasing industry communication and education by proactively contacting all businesses seeking to deliver training to discuss regulatory requirements
- generating reports to identify anomalies in training to detect compliance issues
- conducting comprehensive reviews of training program and materials against the regulatory requirements during inspections of all licensed agencies delivering training
- enhancing internal compliance checks on information provided by training providers relating to training candidates, including first aid certificates.
The purpose of these recent measures was to provide confidence to agencies and the businesses that employ security guards and private investigators that individuals are equipped with the knowledge and skills to carry out their duties and contribute to keeping communities safe.
Key facts and figures
Number of registered training entities in Ontario
Licensed agencies: 249
Registered employers: 16
Community colleges: 22
Private career colleges: 24
Public university: 0
Total number of registered training entities: 311
In addition to completing the required training, candidates must successfully pass the ministry exam to be eligible to apply for a licence.
PSISB’s current testing services vendor, Serco Canada Inc., delivers testing in-person and online across the province to meet testing demand. Over the past five years, demand for security guard and private investigator testing has grown exponentially, with an average increase of 22% per year.
On January 18, 2021, the Ontario government announced the launch of its new, online testing option to obtain a licence to become a security guard or private investigator. The introduction of online testing created a more accessible option for candidates as they are no longer required to travel to an in-person testing location.
PSISB received positive feedback regarding the launch of online testing, including broad consensus that it has resulted in substantial benefits for test-takers and industry. In fact, 70% of all security guard and private investigator candidates opted to book their test online in 2021.
Online testing has improved capacity and increased overall efficiency of test delivery. As online testing gained in popularity, Serco has continued to meet testing demand offering as many as 22 sessions a day by the end of 2021.
Key facts and figures
Growth in testing demand
On average, 4,084 individual tests were booked per month in 2021. The average number of tests booked per month in 2020 were 3,008, representing a 35% increase.
2021 tests booked
- security guard tests: 47,371 (35% increase from 2020)
- private investigator tests: 1,640 (51% increase from 2020)
Average pass rate:
- security guard pass rate: 81.3% (62% is the mark required to pass)
- private investigator pass rate: 48.2% (77% is the mark required to pass)
Top five in-person testing sites:
Licensing and registration
ServiceOntario has been PSISB’s licensing service delivery partner since 2014, processing licence applications and providing customer service to the private security and investigative services industry on PSISB's behalf.
On average, the total number of licensees in the industry has grown by 11% annually.
As part of the Ontario government’s efforts to reduce the regulatory burden to Ontario businesses, PSISB focused on cutting red tape and making it easier for industry businesses, many of whom were struggling as a result of the pandemic.
Effective July 1, 2021, agency licences and employer registration terms were revised as follows:
- All security guard, private investigator and dual agency licences were extended from two years to three years.
- Registered employer certificates were extended from one year to three years.
Changing the term length reduces paperwork, saves time, and lowers the annualized cost of having a licence or valid registration.
Key facts and figures
Number of new licences issued:
- individuals: 31,385 (29% increase from 2020)
- agencies: 138 (1% decrease from 2020)
Number of renewed licences issued:
- individuals: 27,764 (5% increase over 2020)
- agencies: 281 (3% decrease over 2020)
Number of suspensions:
- individuals: 12 (no change from 2020)
- agencies: 0 (decrease from 3 in 2020)
Number of revocations:
- individuals: 3 (75% decrease from 2020)
- agencies: 1 (decrease from 3 in 2020)
|Individual licences issued||23,675||24,303||31,385|
|Agency licence issued||148||140||138|
|Individual licences renewed||23,616||27,171||27,764|
|Agency licences renewed||190||290||281|
Any member of the public may make a formal complaint if they feel a security guard, private investigator, or an agency that employs security guards/private investigators has:
- breached the licensee Code of Conduct
- failed to comply with any other part of the PSISA or its regulations
Members of the public are encouraged to file a formal complaint if they feel there has been a violation of the PSISA. More information on how to submit a public complaint can be found on our Public complaints for security guards and private investigators page.
PSISB reviews each complaint received to determine what action, if any, should be taken. If, in the opinion of the Registrar, a licensee has breached the Code of Conduct, the complaint is referred to facilitation. The facilitation process provides the opportunity to resolve the complaint through open dialogue between the complainant and the subject, moderated by an independent facilitator. It is an educational tool meant to increase awareness and improve performance. It also gives the facilitator the option of making recommendations to the Registrar, including remedial instruction for the subject(s) of the complaint that are licensed under the act.
The Ontario Ombudsman is an independent agency that investigates and resolves complaints involving government bodies. Each year, the Ontario Ombudsman releases an annual report regarding individual complaints and issues investigated under the Ombudsman Act. The Ontario Ombudsman’s office previously received 13 complaints regarding the private security and investigative services program in 2020; however, none were reported in the year 2021.
Key facts and figures
In 2021, PSISB received a total of 187 public complaint allegations, an increase of 35% from the previous year (121).
Of these, 65 were reported as code of conduct violations; 22 were referred for facilitation services; and 12 were pursued by the complainant and closed.
Over the last three year, PSISB received the following types of public complaints:
|Public complaint category||2019||2020||2021|
|Code of Conduct violations||40||47||65|
|PSISA and Code of Conduct violations||4||18||21|
|Out of scope||11||19||45|
|Total number of complaint allegations||106||121||187|
The top three allegations
- failing to refrain from using profane, abusive, or insulting language or actions, or actions that are otherwise uncivil to any member of the public: 44
- acting with disregard to honesty and integrity: 35
- failing to refrain from exercising unnecessary force: 16
Compliance and enforcement
In 2021, PSISB provided additional resources to its compliance and enforcement team to support PSISB’s Compliance Inspection Strategy (CIS) which focused on strengthening industry oversight to increase legislative compliance.
With additional support, PSISB’s compliance unit increased site checks and its overall regulatory presence. As a result of the CIS, compliance checks saw an increase from 42 completed in 2020, to 611 in 2021.
Key facts and figures
The industry’s rate of compliance was 89.4% in 2021, which increased by 4.4% compared to 2020.
Over the last three years, PSISB conducted the following compliance and enforcement activities:
|Provincial offence notices (PON) issued||32||25||14|
The top reasons for PONs issued in 2021 included acting/holding out as a security guard without the appropriate licence; failure to carry a security guard licence; and employing a security guard without a licence.
Suspensions and revocations
The registrar/deputy registrar can suspend or revoke a licence due to a breach of the PSISA or its regulations.
If a licence has been suspended with the proposal to be revoked, the individual/agency is provided an opportunity to be heard before the registrar to show cause for why the registrar/deputy registrar should not revoke the licence.
In 2021, the top reason for suspension and/or revocations was related to criminal charges.
|Individual licence suspensions||3||12||12|
|Agency licence suspensions||2||2||0|
|Individual licence revocations||9||12||3|
|Agency licence revocations||2||3||1|
Private Security and Investigative Services industry and public engagement
Stakeholder engagement is an integral component of PSISB’s role as regulator, allowing the branch to keep apprised of challenges facing the industry and providing a window to share information on compliance and program development activities.
In addition to regular communication, PSISB meets formally with members of the Private Security and Investigative Services Discussion Table. Made up of industry businesses and associations, the Table provides information on challenges facing the industry, shares knowledge on new and ongoing initiatives, and solicits feedback on program changes.
PSISB also strives for excellent customer service by promptly responding to incoming questions and requests from the public, as well as delivering information and guidance to support industry needs in a timely and effective manner.
Inquiries range from requesting clarification on requirements under the PSISA, to making suggestions on how to improve the regulation of the industry, to requesting specific information on licensing and/or training entity status.
Sharing information with the public and industry is key priority for the branch and the input received from industry and members of the public informs program and regulatory modernization. PSISB values opportunities engage in meaningful dialogue, which is critical to ensuring the branch responds to industry needs and contributes to public safety.
Key facts and figures
In 2021, PSISB received 2,201 inquiries, which is an approximate increase of nine per cent in volume over 2020. An average of 180 requests are received per month.
Most inquiries pertained to:
- requests to verify out of province training (57% of the total)
- questions about specific regulations in the PSISA (11% of the total).
- general requests for information about licensing (10% of the total)
For more information on the Private Security and Investigative Services Branch, please visit our main web page.
For inquiries, please reach out to customer service:
Graph 1 - Annual test growth
This graph shows the total number of security guard and private investigator tests conducted on a yearly basis from 2017 to 2021.
- In 2017, 21,816 tests were conducted.
- In 2018, 29,052 tests were conducted.
- In 2019, 33,317 tests were conducted.
- In 2020, 36,101 tests were conducted.
- In 2021, 49,011 tests were conducted.
Graph 2 - 2021 tests booked
This graph shows the number of security guard and private investigator tests booked per month in 2021.
- In January, 3,752 tests were booked.
- In February, 3,409 tests were booked.
- In March, 4,591 tests were booked.
- In April, 3,844 tests were booked.
- In May, 3,951 tests were booked.
- In June, 4,633 tests were booked.
- In July, 4,464 tests were booked.
- In August, 3,510 tests were booked.
- In September, 3,662 tests were booked.
- In October, 4,212 tests were booked.
- In November, 5,022 tests were booked.
- In December, 3,961 tests were booked.
Graph 3 - Individual licensees: 2017 to 2021
This graph shows the total number of security guard, private investigator and dual licencees on a yearly basis from 2017 to 2021.
- In 2017, there were 71,880 licensed security guards, 2,204 licensed private investigators and 2,179 licensed dual.
- In 2018, there were 77,662 licensed security guards, 2,211 licensed private investigators and 2,150 licensed dual.
- In 2019, there were 86,192 licensed security guards, 2,283 licensed private investigators and 2,187 licensed dual.
- In 2020, there were 95,451 licensed security guards, 2,369 licensed private investigators and 2,190 licensed dual.
- In 2021, there were 107,589 licensed security guards, 2,463 licensed private investigators and 2,281 licensed dual.
- footnote Back to paragraph Wages for Security guards and related security service occupations - Job Bank, Government of Canada. November 2021. https://www,jobbank.gc.ca/wagereport/occupation/14290
- footnote Back to paragraph Work requirements for Security guards and related security service occupations Canadian Job Trends Dashboard. Labour Market Information Council (LMIC) December 2021. https://lmic- cimt.ca/data-dashboards/canadian-job-trends-dashboard/
- footnote Back to paragraph Security guards and related security service occupations. Ministry of Labour, Training and Skills Development. https://www.services.labour.gov.on.ca/labourmarket-ui/jobProfile?nocCode=6541&lang=en
- footnote Back to paragraph “Out of Scope” complaints refer to complaints received which do not relate to a violation of the PSISA or its regulations. Out of scope complaints will not be treated as a public complaint, but may be referred elsewhere for resolution, (e.g. a complaint regarding a security guard test session may be referred to the testing vendor).
- footnote Back to paragraph Complaints may contain multiple allegations.