The Toronto-St. Paul’s NDP released a tweet on Tuesday sharing a link to their new petition to defund the police.
The petition states that while Toronto police cost over $1 billion, the money is needed in other areas such as schools, transit, homelessness, mental health and social housing.
The website says, “For years, activists and experts have been calling for fundamental change in the way we think about policing. You can add your voice to those calls with this petition.”
The murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis and the death here in Toronto of Regis Korchinski-Paquet have forced the issue to the top of the agenda.
The combination of systemic racism and skyrocketing budgets have many calling for ‘police defunding.’
It doesn’t necessarily mean the elimination of the police force. But it does mean a fundamental change in how we think about police, and a substantial diversion of public money from the police to housing, mental health, transit, and other social goods.”
It also states that police funding in Toronto has doubled in the past 20 years whereas other services have experienced cuts. The petition says that Toronto schools need $3.5 billion in repairs and mental health patients have to wait up to two years for treatment. It adds that Toronto has about 10,000 homeless people on a given night, the transit system needs billions for expansion and waits for social housing can be up to seven years.
The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) currently has an annual budget of $3.4 billion and in 2019 there was $67.8 million in reductions including a $42.1 million cut in provincial government funding along with a budget shortfall of $25.7 million.
Toronto’s social planning website says the Toronto City Council took an important step to increase the “City Building Fund, a property tax levy, and committed to increases over the next six years which will allow the City to borrow $6.6 billion for public transit and housing infrastructure.”
The tweet received mixed emotions but mostly users who strongly agreed or strongly disagreed with the petition.
Toronto has an operating budget of $13.5 billion and the police service takes the biggest portion. In an average $3,020 property tax bill about $700 goes to police followed by roughly $520 for transit. Then comes housing and shelters at about $150 and $60 for paramedic services.