Police will get the money they’re seeking in 2024 budget, says Mayor Chow in major reversal

The day before taking her budget to city council for debate, Mayor Chow claims to have found the extra funding Toronto Police had been seeking. The move comes after intense public campaigning for money to hire more officers. Mark McAllister has more.

A day before Toronto city council is set to begin finalizing the 2024 budget, Mayor Olivia Chow has put to rest one of the most contentious items — how much money would be earmarked for the Toronto Police Service (TPS).

After much public wrangling, including an eyebrow-raising Toronto Police Association (TPA) ad campaign, Chow confirmed to CityNews on Tuesday that police will get the full amount of money they’ve been seeking.

Chow said the last-second reversal came after the city received financial help from the provincial and federal governments, using the example of federal funds to combat auto theft to drive home her point.

“My original worry was that I would need to go and cut some service in order to find the funds that the police need, because we pretty well maxed out on our ability to find money from reserve funds,” Chow told CityNews.

“Recently, the federal and provincial government has offered to support the city of Toronto because of the unique challenges, or opportunities to protect this big city, so we are able to find the funds, so we don’t need to cut other services, or increase more taxes.”

The TPS put forward a 1.7 per cent ($20 million) increase to the police budget, amounting to a total of $1.186 billion, but Chow initially insisted on lowering that number by $12 million, raising the ire of Police Chief Myron Demkiw, who said the reduction would put public safety at risk.

Chow fought back against Demkiw’s portrayal of the police budget as a “cut,” pointing out that it was still an overall increase over the previous number.

“Let me set the record straight,” Chow told reporters. “The Toronto Police are receiving millions of dollars more in the budget. There’s no cuts.”

Despite that insistence, the move to give police less than they insisted they needed didn’t seem popular.

A poll released on Monday concluded that Chow’s stance on crime was a driving factor behind her falling popularity — with only 48 per cent of respondents approving her work when it comes to addressing crime in the city.

“Support for cutting funding from the Toronto Police Service to fund social services is down from 39 per cent to 31 per cent, with 44 per cent now opposing the measure,” said David Valentin, principal at Liaison Strategies, which conducted the survey.

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