Mayor John Tory is proposing a $48.3-million budget increase for the Toronto Police Service.
“One of our principal responsibilities is to keep our community safe and to keep Torontonians safe. This will show itself in a proposed 4.3 per cent increase in the police budget,” Tory said at a news conference Tuesday announcing the investment.
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The proposed funding would bring the service’s 2023 budget to approximately $1.166 billion. In 2022, the police budget was roughly $1.118 billion and in 2021 it was roughly $1.076 billion.
If approved, the investment would see 200 more officers join the force.
At least 162 of those officers would be deployed to what the city described as “priority response units,” 25 of which would be based downtown. Another 22 officers would work in major case management, and 16 officers would be assigned to neighbourhood community policing.
Tory made the announcement while adding that he is no longer on the Toronto Police Services Board — which will meet to consider the proposal on Jan. 9 — saying that he hasn’t been on the board for a “couple of months now.”
The Toronto Police Service responded to Tory’s announcement while citing a June 2022 report by the city’s auditor general, Beverly Romeo-Beehler, which found that response times to all calls, specifically priority 1 calls, were increasing and service levels were not keeping up with demand.
“Despite the tremendous progress we’ve made towards building capacity at the Service, there’s more work that needs to be done to ensure we maintain the core services that the public expects from us,” Toronto Police Chief Myron Demkiw said in a news release following Tory’s announcement.
“Our ability to answer when the call is made is one of the fundamental commitments of policing that we must deliver on. The public needs to trust that the police will arrive when needed,” Demkiw added.
Tory said that Torontonians have become “extremely anxious” about acts of violence in the city and across the GTA seen in recent weeks and months.
“We must do everything we can to address crime and to keep people safe and have them feel safe in our city,” he said.
Tory went on to say that the public has become specifically anxious riding the TTC given the number of random violent attacks that took place on the network in 2022 and said he will have “more to say” on that front in the coming days.
At the Toronto Police Service’s (TPS) Chief Change of Command ceremony on Dec. 19, Tory had said he was committed to increasing the force’s budget “responsibly” in the New Year.
However, one social justice advocate who spoke with CTV News Toronto last week argued that “any increase is irresponsible.”
“Police do not protect people…Especially racialized people,” Beverly Bain, a professor of gender studies at the University of Toronto and organizer of the No Pride in Policing Coalition, said adding that any new money should be redistributed into community services.
To that end, Tory said that the proposed Toronto Police Service budget will include an additional $2 million for youth and families, allocated to anti-violence programming to address the roots of violence and build on existing programming to support youth supports including employment.
The city’s full 2023 spending plans, which are set to be unveiled on Jan. 10, will be reviewed by the budget committee starting Jan. 12 followed by a number of public consultations.
While the new so-called strong mayor powers awarded to Tory allow him to present this year’s budget directly to council, the city says the mayor plans to keep the budget approval process “largely the same” by continuing to hear input from the public and council.
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