September 17, 2018

Community Safety and Wellbeing


TORONTO -- September 17: Today, Jennifer Keesmaat announced a five-point plan to restore public confidence in the safety of Toronto’s neighbourhoods. 

“When it comes to our safety, we can’t just wait for a crisis to act. As your mayor, I will be focused every single day on ensuring we all feel safer in every corner of our city”, said Keesmaat. “We can live in a city where our police service is transformed, focused on rebuilding trust to deliver better public safety. A city where kids have real options to turn to instead of turning down a violent path. A city where, in an emergency, you can get the help you need from the right people in a timely fashion -- that’s the safe, secure Toronto we all want our kids to grow up in.”

On John Tory’s watch, there has been a sharp rise in gun crime but no clear and consistent strategy to address it. The Toronto Police Service was first reduced in size by hundreds of officers and civilian personnel through broad budget cuts and blanket hiring freezes, and then hurriedly expanded with sudden calls for 200 more officers. 9-1-1 call wait times have gotten worse. 

The plan that John Tory promised would transform and modernize our police service to improve public safety and re-instill public trust has stalled. Even his recent change of heart on a handgun ban is four years and almost a thousand shootings too late, coming only during one of the most violent summers in the last two decades. 

Keesmaat laid out her community safety and wellbeing plan:

  • Transform Toronto policing through a neighbourhood-centred approach: “The Toronto Police Transformational Taskforce called for a neighbourhood-centred system that specifically trains and deploys police to prevent and reduce crime by building trusting and effective relationships with the communities they serve, but progress has stalled under John Tory. I will bring neighbourhood-based policing to each of Toronto’s 140 neighbourhoods within four years.”
  • Focus on crime prevention by providing economic opportunities and support for youth: “We need to address the root causes that lead people down violent paths. The neighbourhood safety strategies we develop throughout the city will create effective partnerships between policing teams, health and social service professionals, and community agencies to identify and address root causes. And we can do more, by leveraging Community Benefit Agreements on every major city infrastructure project to create job opportunities for at-risk youth.”
  • Bring Toronto up-to-code on 9-1-1 response standards: “The National Emergency Number Association’s standards state that 9-1-1 emergency calls must be answered within ten seconds at least 90% of the time. Toronto isn’t meeting that standard due to John Tory’s hiring freeze. I will bring Toronto up-to-code to meet the NENA standard so that when our neighbours are faced with emergencies, they aren’t left on hold.”
  • Ensure the right first responders are dispatched to emergencies: “It’s critical that the right first responders are sent to emergencies, especially in cases involving mental health issues. I will expand the use of Mobile Crisis Intervention Teams by more than doubling the number of mental health workers who are paired with police officers, to better manage emergencies involving people suffering from mental health crises.”
  • Ban dangerous weapons and ammunition: “Handguns, assault rifles, and ammunition have no place in our city, and must be banned. John Tory called it ‘an empty gesture’ and waited four years to act. We need action now.”