Anti-Racism and Changes to Policing

Over the past few months our City and many others across the world, have witnessed several very disturbing events, including the deaths of George Floyd in the United States and Regis Korchinski-Paquet in Toronto. We recognized the need to act more quickly and decisively on issues of anti-Black racism, anti-Indigenous racism as well as how we respond to those in mental health crises. Our City had already been taking steps to meet these challenges, but we recognized that we needed to significantly advance these actions and Toronto City Council has now made very clear and time-specific commitments to do so.

At the June Council meeting, I along with my colleagues voted to take the steps needed to quickly and effectively meet these challenges. These changes include a commitment to making the City's first funding priority for future budgets to be centred around robust system of social supports and services, as well as to develop alternative models of community safety response that will include the creation of non-police led response to emergency calls, where police are not required. Our commitments will achieve the objectives we all want in a way that has guaranteed timelines for measurable results. Our path forward means doing things differently, including looking to approaches such as the CAHOOTS program, which deploys unarmed, medically trained crisis intervention assistance personnel to deal with a range of community challenges including homelessness, intoxication, substance abuse, mental illness, dispute resolution, and basic medical emergency care. Also, we have advanced more quickly the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism which in 2018 produced 22 specific recommendations following a great deal of hard work by community leaders, stakeholders, individuals and City representatives.

We are now able to move forward quickly with an approach that will divest funds from the police budget and reallocate and assign them to non-policing forms of public safety and community support in a way that is quick and measured with specific timelines. In order to continue this progress, Council has requested an update from the City Manager on the implementation of these actions by the beginning of 2021, as well as an Auditor General report this winter. In August, the Mayor submitted a report for action to the Toronto Police Services Board based on Council's direction and this was approved at their subsequent meeting moving action forward as committed to a June's Council meeting.  I appreciated the input of all who participated in my town hall meeting on this issue in July.

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