QUEEN’S PARK – Kevin Yarde, the NDP Critic for Community Safety and Correctional Services, says Doug Ford should implement Toronto City Council’s proposals immediately as the first steps in an overall plan to address police violence and systemic racism.
“For far too long, Liberal and Conservative governments alike have passed the buck on addressing the pain of Black, Indigenous and racialized people in Ontario who face systemic racism daily – even as countless reports, studies, and recommendations have come from experts, affected communities and within their own governments. It’s well past time for the province to step up and actually address systemic racism in policing,” said Yarde.
Today, Toronto City Council passed a motion which, among other things, called on the province of Ontario to:
- Immediately instate the Police Services Act reforms recommended by Justice Tulloch, particularly those reforms focused on enhancing the independence and notifications requirements of the Special Investigations Unit.
- Review and overhaul the Equipment and Use of Force Regulation, R.R.O. 1990, Reg. 926, so as to emphasize de-escalation; and incorporate further modifications based on alternative models and best practices in peer jurisdictions, which address the use of deadly force.
- Eradicate racial profiling in policing
- Broaden the City of Toronto Act to include provincial oversight (by the Auditor General) of the Toronto Police Service budget
- Provide Toronto City Council with line-item control of the Toronto Police Service budget
- Revoke the Toronto Police Board and the Ontario Civilian Police Commission’s ability to override Toronto City Council decisions on funding
- Expand instances when officers can be suspended without pay
- Require The Office of Independent Police Review Director to independently investigate serious complaints and not refer them back to police services
“The government should move on these initial measures immediately and we are prepared to pass legislation and do the work this summer to get it done,” said Yarde “To date, the Ford Government has consistently moved in the wrong direction on policing, from substantially weakening police oversight to cutting vital mental health funding. This has to change.”
Yarde emphasized that there was much more to do following these first steps, pointing to the Ontario NDP’s recently released commitment to action, End Police Violence: Invest in Black, Indigenous and Racialized People’s Lives. This includes an overhaul of police oversight, demilitarization of police forces, ensuring elected representatives have oversight on police budgets, an end to carding, as well as investments in alternative first responders and programs to address mental health, addictions, homelessness, and other issues of community health and wellbeing.