I apologize that today’s Eblast comes out a day late. City Council ran long, but I wanted to make sure that I was able to provide a detailed update on yesterday’s debate and vote on Mayor Tory’s Changes to Policing in Toronto item. Moving forward, you can expect to receive these updates twice a week on Tuesday and Thursday.
I want to thank everyone who emailed and called my office. Since the tragic death of Regis Korchinski-Paquet a month ago, I have received over 30,000 calls and emails asking for more accountability from the City of Toronto about how we fund community safety and address systemic anti-Black racism in policing.
To ensure that our motion would be considered, Councillor Matlow pulled our motion and we re-submitted our recommendations as amendments to the Mayor’s report. Unfortunately, many of our recommendations failed, including our request to reallocate a minimum of 10% from the police budget next year to underfunded community services and policing alternatives.
In fact, rather than reduce the police budget, City Council decided to spend an additional $50 million over the next 10 years to equip police officers with body-worn cameras, despite overwhelming evidence that body-worn cameras have no impact on changing officer or citizen behaviour.
City Council also voted against my motion prohibiting Toronto Police’s use of deadly force and military-style weapons on civilians, with the exception of the Emergency Task Force. Toronto taxpayers spend millions in firearms and ammunition arming officers and in 2019 they shot their guns 23 times, the majority of which were against animals.
Despite criticizing our motion for being arbitrary, and declaring that we can’t defund police until alternatives have been developed, City Council, led by Mayor Tory, voted against measures that would do so. These include directing staff to work directly with Black, Indigenous and People of Colour community-led organizations, mental health, restorative justice and legal experts and explore alternative 911 and other emergency responses.
We did get some wins. City Council successfully directed the Chief of Police to immediately provide the line-by-line breakdown of the Toronto Police Service's 2020 Budget and to make the breakdown publicly available by July 2020.
City Council also approved my recommendation, and long-standing position of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, to establish an accountability office for Toronto Police. This would require annual reporting on police practice and policies. We also directed the City Manager to report on the implementation of a City of Toronto Mobile Crisis Assistance Intervention Service that would deploy unarmed, medically trained crisis intervention assistance personnel when responding to calls for people in crisis, based on the successful CAHOOTS (Crisis Assistance Helping Out On The Streets) model from Eugene, Oregon.
A number of recommendations were passed that request the Province of Ontario to amend the Police Services Act and the Community Safety and Policing Act, 2019. This legislation oversees how municipalities must deliver policing services. These include requests to:
- significantly expand the instances in which suspension without pay and revocation of a police officer’s appointment as a police officer is available where serious misconduct is alleged or ultimately established;
- require that complaints made about a police officer’s public conduct that alleges serious misconduct be investigated by the Province’s independent police complaints agency (currently, the Office of the Independent Police Review Director) and not any police service’s professional standards unit; and
- eliminate any and all appeal powers for the Toronto Police Services Board to overturn Toronto City Council decisions pertaining to Police Budget matters including requests for reduction, abolition, creation or amalgamation of police services.
This is not an either or proposition for me. Defunding the police is about making sure that we are getting the best return on our investments, and getting the results we are looking for: healthier and safer communities that don’t result in an increase in police violence brutality. Healthy communities where people experiencing mental health crises don't end up dead after interactions with police.
Our work to reimagine community safety by defunding the police, and eliminating anti-Black racism didn’t end yesterday. We have to bring the Provincial and Federal governments to the table, to address the root causes of violence and crime and make sure that we are not setting police officers up to fail.
Right now, we are seeing a collapse of our mental healthcare system and a completely inadequate response to addiction. This is due to a lack of detox and recovery beds, both the direct responsibility of the Provincial government, and a refusal to deliver enough affordable and supportive housing units by all levels of government. These crises disproportionately affect Black and Indigenous people, and are responsible for an increase in service calls to the police to deal with people in crisis.
We have downloaded responsibility for dealing with the repercussions of those decisions onto the police. For years, police leadership have readily accepted this downloading and have become so deeply entrenched that they have been unable to accept any kind of change for years, despite decades of calls for reform. This leaves front line officers stuck responding to issues that they are not equipped to handle, and our communities at continued risk of brutality. Creating safe communities requires real, structural change by removing firearms, by creating alternatives to 911 and by reducing the number of interactions between police and citizens.
Systemic change to the Toronto Police Service was always going to be bigger than one council meeting. To everyone who has gotten involved in advocacy for the first time, welcome! I look forward to working with all of you over the coming weeks, months and years.
City Council officially endorsed the CaféTO plan, allowing for expanded patios in time for Canada Day. CaféTO will ensure that accessibility and safety are not compromised while making it easier for many restaurant and bar owners to open patios, expand them and access additional space for physical distancing, in accordance with public health guidelines. Registration for CaféTO is still available for local restaurant and bar owners to better understand requirements and plan. A simple online form and guidebook for the program can be found at toronto.ca/cafeTO.
City Council also voted to enact a temporary bylaw that will require businesses to have a posted policy requiring the use of masks or face coverings in enclosed public spaces. This means that you will be required to wear a mask anytime you go to the grocery store or when shopping. As more and more people are circulating in public, returning to the workplace, gathering and taking public transit, the ability to physically distance is difficult, or in some cases, impossible. The wearing of masks or face coverings is one measure that can be taken to help keep each other safe.
Virtual Canada Day Celebrations
Due to the ongoing threat of COVID-19, the City of Toronto will be celebrating online this year for Canada Day. On July 1, there will be livestream programs all day showcasing Toronto’s brightest talent. Enjoy music, dance, comedy, the CN Tower Canada Day Light Show and much more on Canada’s 153rd birthday. Participate in virtual Canada Day programs from home and download a Celebration Kit with interactive and creative activities for the whole family.
Community Care in Ward 13
Today’s Community Care shoutout is for our friends at Social Planning Toronto! In partnership with Toronto Aboriginal Support Services Council, Social Planning Toronto has launched their consultation process to inform the Toronto Office of Recovery and Rebuild work that is taking place right now. Their focus is on engaging Indigenous and equity-seeking groups, as well as historically marginalized and vulnerable populations. These groups are most impacted by COVID-19 and should therefore be the center of the City’s plans and decision-making processes.
By deeply engaging with these groups, we can work towards more meaningful inclusion of these voices. Thank you for the work you do to help our communities thrive as we work towards a recovery from COVID-19. Learn more about Social Planning Toronto here.
Please continue to email my office at email@example.com to share examples of community care in your neighbourhood and ways you are supporting your community at this time. I’ll be happy to promote it, space permitting, in our communication to the residents and business owners in Ward 13. Every bit goes a long way!
COVID-19: Ongoing Tips to Reduce Virus Spread
As we begin to ease our public health measures, we will all be living a new normal. Our commitment must be to continue minimizing the impact of COVID-19, especially on our most vulnerable residents, while reducing negative social, economic and broader health impacts on our community. In the coming months what this means for our residents is:
- Continuing to work remotely, wherever possible;
- Maintaining physical distance from people outside our household or social circle/bubble;
- Avoiding crowds and congregations in closed indoor settings;
- Wearing a cloth mask or face covering in any indoor, enclosed public spaces or where physical distancing is difficult to maintain; and
- Staying home whenever we are sick for any reason.
When you are unable to keep a six feet/two-metre distance from others, wear a mask or face covering. This includes when you are:
- In any indoor, enclosed public space;
- In elevators, common areas, waiting rooms or shopping;
- Using transit, taxi or rideshare services; and
- Sick and going to a medical appointment.
Be respectful of others who choose not to wear a mask. Some health conditions make it hard to breathe when wearing a face covering.
How to Create a Safe Social Circles
As we continue our shared fight against COVID-19, you can now establish a family or social circle of no more than 10 people who can interact with one another without physical distancing. Social circles are a way to safely expand the number of people with whom you can come in close contact. Think of your social circle as the people you can hug and touch, or those who can become part of your daily and weekly routines.
The City of Toronto announced today that the CaféTO report, which directs the City to take quick action and make way for additional safe outdoor dining spaces for local restaurants and bars, was unanimously approved with amendments by Toronto City Council. It’s expected the first CaféTO locations will be in place on July 1.
Report from Medical Officer of Health recommends masks and face coverings mandatory in enclosed public places
Toronto City Council will today consider reports by the Medical Officer of Health and the City Solicitor on requiring masks or face coverings in enclosed public places in Toronto. The Medical Officer of Health has recommended City Council enact a temporary bylaw effective July 7 requiring the wearing of masks or face coverings in enclosed public settings to prevent a resurgence of COVID-19 cases. The new bylaw would expire at 12:01 a.m. on the first day after the completion of the first Council meeting following summer recess (currently scheduled for September 30 and October 1, 2020), unless extended by Council.
With the City of Toronto moving into Stage 2 of the provincial reopening, Parks, Forestry & Recreation staff have worked quickly to open the City’s outdoor pools and splash pads this week as part of the SwimTO program. The plan helps ensure that all Torontonians can safely access outdoor aquatic recreation and cool down during hot summer temperatures as Toronto’s reopening progresses.
The Ontario government has extended all emergency orders currently in force that were made under s.7.0.2 (4) of the Emergency Management and Civil Protection Act until July 10, 2020, while removing restrictions that were limiting access to certain sport training facilities. This decision was made in consultation with Ontario's Chief Medical Officer of Health to ensure the safe and gradual reopening of the province on a regional basis can continue as part of Ontario's Framework for Reopening the Province.
The Ontario Government is celebrating International Small Business Week with the launch of the "Shop Local! Shop Safe! Shop with Confidence!" campaign, encouraging Ontarians to support their local small businesses and to shop safely while doing so.
In an effort to make it simpler and faster to start a business in Canada, governments across the country have together developed and launched a digital solution to improve business registration, saving businesses time and money.
The digital solution, called the Multi-Jurisdictional Registry Access Service, reduces red tape and internal trade barriers for companies by connecting business registries across the country. It enables businesses in Canada to register seamlessly in select provinces and territories without having to provide the same information to each jurisdiction.
COVID-19 Information and Resources
Now is the time to stay informed through credible sources, and to follow the advice of our public health professionals. Together we can limit the spread of COVID-19.
Phone lines for telehealth, TPH and 311 continue to experience very high volumes. Please help keep the phones lines open for people who are sick by visiting the Toronto Public Health COVID-19 website for up-to-date information and resources: toronto.ca/covid-19
Call if you develop symptoms!
Toronto Public Health Hotline
8:30 a.m. – 8 p.m.
Call if you have questions about COVID-19.
Outside City limits: 416-392-2489
Call if you have questions about City services, or to report people
Support for People Living with Homelessness
If you see someone living with homelessness and in need of support you can call Streets to Homes at 416-338-4766. For mental health support, the Gerstein Crisis Centre is a valuable 24-hours a day, seven days a week service in our community and they have crisis workers on standby at 416-929-5200. More resources, including additional how to report information, are available on my website at kristynwongtam.ca.
If you or someone else is confronted with life-threatening danger, please call 911 immediately. Alternatively, the Toronto Police request that online reports be submitted at torontopolice.on.ca/core or to torontopolice.on.ca/community-complaints. You can also call their non-emergency line at 416-808-2222. In the past, by diligently reporting criminal activity, residents were able to see our community policing and other service levels increase. You can do your part: see it, report it.