toronto snitch line

Toronto wants people to snitch on each other for not social distancing but not everyone is on board

The city has introduced an online system where residents can report anyone not complying with social distancing and closure measures in Toronto, but not everyone thinks it's a good idea. 

The city of Toronto tweeted a link to the new online system this past weekend, which encourages residents to "use the online forms below to share concerns about large gatherings, use of parks amenities, businesses in non-compliance and price gouging."

The webpage features several categories where residents can report non-compliance, including non-essential businesses that remain open, non-essential construction sites in operation, individuals breaking the social distancing bylaw, people removing city park barriers and businesses that are suspected of price gouging.

But since the city tweeted about what some are calling Toronto's new "snitch line," many have expressed concerns about the dangers of over-policing as well as the toxicity of encouraging residents to tattle on each other. 

Globe and Mail health columnist André Picard, for example, spoke about the issue with Matt Galloway on CBC's The Current Tuesday morning.

"I'm not a big fan of snitch lines," he said bluntly. "I think you have to trust people to follow the rules and make the rules clear... Heavy-handed law enforcement is the antithesis of public health."

Meanwhile, many residents have taken to social media in recent days to share similar points of view. 

"This Toronto snitch line idea will be a disaster and it's bad public policy," one Twitter user wrote online. "People who hate their neighbour will find a way to snitch them. Will create more toxicity."

Others are criticizing the city for focusing on community policing rather than opening up streets to pedestrians and pressuring the province on rent relief. 

Some have also pointed to evidence that increased policing disproportionately impacts those who are Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC). 

And others are wondering why the city is putting so much emphasis on compliance in parks when many shelters and supervised consumption sites still don't allow for proper social distancing.

A select few have also pointed out the hypocrisy of encouraging residents to snitch on non-compliance when Toronto Mayor John Tory and the Toronto Police Service gathered with crowds of people to show appreciation for healthcare workers just days ago.

And one Toronto-based neuroscientist, Robin Mazumder, tweeted exactly what many seem to be thinking when it comes to the new "snitch line."

"They would rather start a snitch line than open the streets to give people more space. It's impossible to walk down a sidewalk in Toronto while maintaining adequate social distance. This is so disappointing. I hope they collect data on race. Guess who's going to get tattled on..." he wrote.

"Taking these draconian measures without even considering creating more space for people is cold. This isn't 'tough love.' It's cruel."

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert

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