Toronto is ordering the city’s already-strained police force to focus on enforcing coronavirus gathering limits.

For the foreseeable future, police will be treating coronavirus measure enforcement as a “priority” and working in tandem with local public health officials. 

“We will enforce provincial regulations in an effort to arrest the spread of COVID-19,”said General Manager of Toronto’s office of emergency management Toronto Fire Chief Matthew Pegg during a press conference on Monday.

“Our coordinated enforcement teams are actively enforcing the amended gathering size restrictions. We are working together to achieve one overarching goal: Preventing the continued spread of COVID-19 in Toronto.”

In Ontario, the number of people who are allowed to be at outdoor and indoor gatherings have been reduced to 25 and 10 down from 100 and 50, respectively. 

“We will enforce provincial regulations in an effort to arrest the spread of COVID-19,

“This is now a priority and we will prioritize resources collaboratively with the municipal licensing partners and public health,” said Toronto Interim Police Chief James Ramer.

Meanwhile, Toronto has seen a surge in violent gun crime over the span of the pandemic. 

Official police statistics show that gun-related incidents have gone up 16% when compared to the same period in 2019. 

By the end of August, Toronto had seen upwards to 335 shootings in 2020.

Prior to the order to focus on enforcing coronavirus measures, Toronto Mayor John Tory signalled that he was moving forward with a plan to defund the city’s police force in response to recent protests over alleged systemic racism within law enforcement. 

Part of Tory’s plan consists of implementing “alternative” methods to policing, finding ways to reduce the Toronto Police Service’s budget and addressing systemic racism within the police force.

“The financial implications arising out of the recommendations contained in this report are unknown at this time. If the recommendations are approved, financial implications – including for potential costs savings or re-allocations – will be assessed on an ongoing basis,” claimed the report by the Toronto Police Services Board.

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