There is currently a motion expected at the June City Council meeting which includes moving 10% of the police budget to investment to “enhance resiliency in marginalized communities,” including community-led alternatives to policing, programs to help at-risk youth and affordable housing, as well as anti-racism education.
I will be supporting this motion. My record at City Council has consistently been to request or support the request to decrease the police budget as well as moving police budget dollars to much needed community services.
Anti-Black racism is real and pervasive in our City. As a society we must do, and demand, better.
It is essential that the City of Toronto maintain a strong commitment to resourcing and supporting the work of the Indigenous Affairs Office and to fully implement the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism.
Further, our funding priorities must be centred on a robust system of social supports and services, including ongoing investments in Black and marginalized communities. No budgetary demand of the TPS should ever stand in the way of that system.
There may also be an opportunity to begin to reallocate service. Many of our 911 emergency calls are requesting a response to a Mental Health crisis for example, that response may be more appropriately responded to by a Mental Health professional. We need to provide appropriate response to 911 calls, as we do when responding to a fire – fire department, or a heart attack- paramedic.
Finally, we must take action to invest in our resources to address these inequities head-on. The City works to apply an equity lens on every budget decision it makes, which is a good first step, but more must be done and it starts with properly funding of City services.