Over the past few weeks we have seen a growing movement around the world to combat anti-Black racism. Here in ward 4 I have been touched by the steps our community has taken during these difficult times. From marches, to education projects, to the tens of thousands of emails I received, our community is showing its ability to push for systemic change.
Let me be clear, anti-Black racism is real and pervasive in our City. As a society we must do, and demand, better. To start, I will be supporting a motion moving 10% of the police budget to investment to enhance resiliency in marginalized communities. For my full statement on this motion, please visit my website. While this is a move in the right direction, it is only the first step we as a City need to take.
Board of Health
On Monday, June 8, we held our second virtual Board of Health Meeting. I wanted to highlight some important steps we took as a Board.
As part of the recommendations in the Toronto Overdose Action Plan, we voted to urge the federal Minister of Health to grant an exemption under the Controlled Drugs and Substances Act to permit the possession of all drugs for personal use, at least for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to immediately scale up prevention, harm reduction, and treatment services. We know that the impact of the toxic drug supply is worsened for people who use drugs by the impacts of the community spread of COVID-19. Suspected opioid overdose calls to the Toronto Paramedics Service have been higher in February, March and April 2020. With April 2020 marking the highest number of suspected opioid overdose-related deaths in a month since September 2017.
The recommendations in the Overdose Action Plan are critical in saving lives and leading us forward in our work addressing the ongoing opioid poisoning crisis. It is time to be having a conversation about decriminalization and how the use of drugs can be handled by the health system rather than the justice system.
I am also pleased to share we voted to declare anti-Black racism a public health crisis and requested the Medical Officer of Health make recommendations to the Board of Health on reprioritizing City of Toronto resources to address the social determinants of health, including specifically a focus on anti-Black racism through the 2021 Budget process and COVID-19 recovery planning. Steps like this must be taken through all divisions and levels of government to help remove systemic issues that affect the inequalities built into our government.
Prior to the City’s state of emergency declaration, my team and I were busy working on our spring newsletter to update you on what is happening in Ward 4. Since then we have seen dramatic changes throughout the City, as both city staff and our community have had to face the new realities of living in the COVID-19 era. While information is changing fast, I think it is important you are kept informed on topics that are relevant to you.
Throughout the next couple of weeks, we will be sharing an updated version of our spring newsletter, starting this week with “Our Parks & Community Centres”. If you have any questions, feel free to reach out, as my team and I would be happy to assist you as we move through this challenging time together.