Systemic discrimination in our city deeply impacts the life prospects and opportunities of members of Indigenous, Black and racialized communities, and can lead to disparities in health, social and economic outcomes. For many decades, Indigenous, Black and racialized communities have spoken out about their deep mistrust of public institutions, including the police service. The City has a responsibility to the public to begin the conversation of police reform to ensure public safety for all Toronto residents.

Important discussions on racial injustice, inequity and anti-Indigenous and anti-Black racism within police services are happening around the world, and here in Toronto. These discussions resulted in the recommendations and actions on changes to policing adopted by City Council in June 2020.

The City’s Response

Council recognizes that engaging with members of Indigenous, Black and racialized communities is key to restoring trust, police accountability and equitable policing. Part of this engagement process will be to develop alternative service delivery models of community safety.

At its meeting in June 2020, City Council adopted 36 decisions related to policing reform. These decisions included areas of public safety, crisis response and police accountability. At its meeting on August 18, 2020, the Toronto Police Services Board approved 81 decisions on policing reform, including the reforms requested by City Council. The recommendations within this report will lead to concrete action from the City, the Toronto Police Service and the Toronto Police Services Board, changing the future of policing in Toronto.

The 36 decisions approved by Council have been grouped into seven common themes:

1. Alternative Community Safety Response Models

A major theme from Council’s decisions 1, 5, 18 and 32, is the need for community-led safety response models that do not require the presence or intervention of the police. This includes alternatives to police response for mental health crisis calls, wellness checks and low-level disputes between community members, like a neighbour dispute.

A new program advisory body will be established called the Alternative Community Safety Response Models Accountability Table. The Accountability Table will include Indigenous, Black and racialized leaders, mental health and addictions experts, advocates for the homeless and representatives from other equity-seeking groups.

2. Police Budget & Budgetary Transparency

The police service’s budget will be examined, along with ways to increase accountability and transparency in the police budget process, as noted in decisions 4 and 7.

For instance, the Toronto Police Service has posted its 2020 budget line-by-line, as well as the past five years’ budget summaries. City staff will post budget information to the City’s Open Data portal by early October.

To advance decisions 8, 9, 22 and 23, the City has asked the Province of Ontario to amend the Police Services Act to grant the City oversight into the Toronto Police Service budget, and scrutiny by the Auditor General.

3. Independent Auditing & Police Service Accountability

The Toronto Police Services Board asked the City’s Auditor General to independently develop a work plan and perform audits of the Toronto Police Service to improve service delivery, identify specific areas of success and specific areas for improvement within the Service, and to find potential areas for savings and redistribution of funding (decision 10).

4. Chief Selection Criteria

Decisions 13, 14 and 15 involve the selection and hiring process for the next police chief. A process is being created to seek input from public and community stakeholders, and Indigenous and Black communities on the values, skills and other criteria deemed important to be successful in the role. More information on how you can provide feedback to this process will be provided.

5. Data Sharing & Information Transparency

Information-sharing and transparency on police services policies and procedures is a good governance practice and critical to maintaining public confidence.

Decisions 6, 16, 17 and 30 direct the Toronto Police Service to work with the City to post key policies such as Use of Force, Toronto Police Services Board annual reports, and data associated with the police force’s Races Based Data Strategy on the Toronto Police Service website.

6. Police Conduct Accountability

Police officer discipline and investigation of conduct is regulated by provincial legislation. Advancing decisions 19, 20, 21, 28 and 29, require legislative changes. City Council, with support from the Toronto Police Services Board, has asked the Province of Ontario that police discipline be reformed in line with recommendations from the 2017 Report of the Independent Police Oversight Review by The Honourable Justice Michael H. Tulloch.

7. Status & Implementation of Recommendations

Members of the public have voiced concern that previous police reform recommendations have not been fully implemented. Based on decisions 24, 25, 26 and 27, City staff and the Toronto Police Service are working together to develop an online tool by mid-October to assist the public in tracking and monitoring the progress of the implementation of police reform items. These decisions also request the status of the implementation or recommendations from the Race-Based Data Collection Policy, the Independent Review of Police Encounters with People in Crisis, the Report of the Independent Police Oversight Review, and the recommendations from the inquest into the death of Andrew Loku.

In keeping with the City of Toronto’s motto, Diversity Our Strength, the City is committed to acting to address anti-Black racism – as well as racism against Indigenous and equity-seeking communities – in order to build a city that is more inclusive, progressive and reflective of the values of its diverse members.

This commitment includes City Council’s unanimous adoption in 2017 of the Toronto Action Plan to Confront Anti-Black Racism (CABR) and the formation of a CABR unit, as well as the 2010 Statement of Commitment to Aboriginal Communities, ongoing commitment to truth and reconciliation and the creation of an Indigenous Affairs Office.

The purpose of the Alternative Community Safety Response Accountability Table is to bring together community leaders to monitor and support the development and implementation of the community-led safety response models that do not require the presence or intervention of the police, including mental health crisis calls, wellness checks and low-level disputes between community members.

The goals of the Table are to share updates on the alternative community safety response work with community leaders, to identify opportunities for further community engagement and to be a place for community leaders to inform any budgetary impacts pertaining to the development of alternative community safety response models.

The Table will include representation across sectors drawn from those working in policy, mental health and addictions services, homeless advocacy, Indigenous and Black serving organizations, organizations serving racialized and other equity seeking groups.

Representation at the Table will be reviewed and refreshed regularly to ensure a variety of the relevant sectors involved in community-led safety responses are represented and that individual representatives at the Table are highly engaged. Membership is voluntary and a public service. Members will not be paid.

Guiding principles of the Table

Members serving on the Table will:

  • Ensure this work reflects and meets the needs of the community.
  • Recognize the impact of colonization, racism, homophobia, misogyny, classism, ableism and other systemic and structural forms of oppression on policing and keep these principles in the forefront of decision-making.
  • Be collaborative, drawing on their individual skills and life experiences to inform the City of Toronto’s work.
  • Ensure an open and transparent process and dialogue where the roles and expectations of members are clearly understood.
  • Form a supportive environment through critical reflection of the Table’s work and group process.

Engaging with the community is key to the City’s decision-making process. A number of different methods will be used to get feedback from various stakeholder groups.

How You can Get Involved

A series of surveys are planned to gather feedback on the values and principles important to Torontonians on alternative models of community safety.  With this data, the City will then host a series of public consultations to guide future decisions in the design of these alternative models.

Details on these and other engagement efforts will be posted here soon.

Stay Informed

This page will be updated regularly with information and progress on the recommendations.

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Staff will report to the Executive Committee on September 23, 2020 on the status of Council’s direction from its June meeting, a proposed Terms of Reference for a Confronting Anti-Black Racism Council Advisory Body and next steps including community engagement plans. The report is now available.

A follow up report will be presented to Executive Committee in early 2021, recommending next steps for policing reform. Please check back for more details closer to the meeting date or sign up to receive updates from Executive Committee.