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City councillor calls to defund Toronto police budget

Last Updated Jun 9, 2020 at 12:07 am EDT

As anti-Black racism protests continue, one city councillor has submitted a motion to defund the Toronto police budget.

Josh Matlow said the motion to defund the budget by 10 per cent will be included on the agenda for this month’s council meeting, scheduled to take place June 29 and 30.

In a long letter posted on his website, Matlow said what is happening in the United States is also happening here in Canada, and that Black, Indigenous, and People of Colour “too often have lower incomes, poorer health outcomes and are disproportionately represented in the criminal justice system.”

He said this is because of systemic racism in the Toronto Police Service, which has deep impacts on those communities.

There have been calls to defund police budgets in cities across north America, in the wake of George Floyd’s death while in police custody in Minneapolis.

A majority of city councillors in Minneapolis pledged Sunday to dismantle the police department and replace it with a community safety system.

When asked about defunding the police here, Toronto police chief Mark Saunders said it’s a discussion he’s open to have but other things need to happen first.

“When we talk about anti-Black racism it’s not just about policing, it’s about the justice system, it’s about housing, it’s about education, it’s about health, it’s about so many other aspects,” he explained.

“And without those other mechanisms put in place, the absence of police or the reduction of police will not create community safety. In fact, it will deter from community safety.”

Matlow said that if passed, his motion will rebalance that 10 per cent towards investing in community supports.

Meanwhile, at Toronto’s Board of Health meeting on Monday Coun. Joe Cressy moved a motion to recognize anti-Black racism as a public health crisis.