A coalition of anti-racist and civil liberty groups including Black Lives Matter Toronto (BLM) want the city to cut police spending by 25%.

In a new report titled “Rethinking Community Safety, a way forward for Toronto,” BLM, the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, the YWCA and a dozen other groups suggest that up to $340 million in funds could be diverted away from policing into community-driven solutions. 

“More appropriate interventions are available—at a lower cost, with better outcomes—when we send support workers to address issues with vulnerable people instead of sending police,” claim the advocacy groups.

“The areas of activity outlined here provide an immediate opportunity to begin to move to models that better serve marginalized communities—real-locating resources to support vulnerable people, improve community safety, and produce better outcomes in the short and long term.” 

The report comes at a time when Toronto Mayor has indicated his support for efforts to defund the city’s already-strained police force. 

“This is a recognition of the fact that we know we must do more because systemic racism in policing threatens the equal rights and opportunity and justice and wellbeing of Indigenous, Black and marginalized communities in our city and that is not something that’s acceptable to me as mayor or to you, the people of Toronto,” said Tory in August 2020.

Over the span of the pandemic, Toronto has seen a worrying increase in violent gun crimes. 

According to official police data, gun-related incidents increased by 16% in 2020 when compared to the same period in 2019.

Meanwhile, Tory has ordered the city’s police force to instead concentrate on enforcing coronavirus gathering bans. 

In September, Tory directed law enforcement officials to treat coronavirus public health order enforcement as a “priority.” 

During Monday’s coronavirus briefing, Tory addressed the report saying that he agreed with its direction. 

“I respect the fact that these are advocates and I agree directionally with what it is they want to try to achieve, which is to find better ways in which we can address some of the needs of people like people with crises in their lives due to mental health issues,” said Tory.