toronto police reform

Toronto proposes long list of policing reforms to address systemic racism

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) published a report yesterday which clearly stated that Black people in Toronto are arrested, charged, assaulted and shot at alarmingly disproportionate rates, and now the city has introduced a proposal with more than 80 recommendations for policing reforms to address these issues.

The 171-page report is set to go before the Police Services Board on Aug. 18, and it includes 81 recommendations that are divided into 10 themes. 

"This is an ambitious series of reforms," said Mayor John Tory at a press briefing this morning when announcing the new report.

"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 is acceptable to me as mayor, or to you, the people of Toronto."

The 10 themes included in the report are as follows:

  1. Alternative community safety response models (meaning different people other than police answering calls of distress in different ways than is presently done)
  2. Police budget and budgetary transparency
  3. Independent auditing and service accountability 
  4. Selection criteria for a new police chief
  5. Data sharing and information transparency
  6. Conduct accountability (more accountability for conduct by police officers)
  7. Police training
  8. Consultation with experts and communities on an ongoing basis
  9. Building public confidence 
  10. Ensuring change 

Some of the most significant recommendations in the report include working with the police service and city manager on non-police alternatives for community safety and identifying funding that can be reallocated from the police budget to support these safety models, and audits of the service now to improve service delivery, identify areas for improvement and find areas for savings and redistribution of funding. 

The city is also proposing to urge the province to make changes to provincial law to expand the cases in which officers can be suspended without pay (such as when there are allegations of serious misconduct), and they also plan to advocate for the provincial government to review the current Use of Force Model, ensuring a new model is focused on de-escalation and minimizing the use of force. 

There is also a recommendation to make the new anti-Black racism training mandatory and permanent, in addition to creating a new mandatory standalone course on fair and unbiased policing. 

Mayor Tory said these reforms will begin to be implemented in the coming weeks, and they're aiming for an online monitoring tool to be available to the public by October so people can track the process of their implementation.

The recommendations build on and complement the previous reforms passed by city council back in June, Tory said.

He added that this report already has the support of the TPS board chair, the board executive director, and the interim chief of police. He said it has also received positive feedback from members of advisory committees on both mental health and anti-Black racism. 

"I want to add my personal support both as a member of the police services board, and as the mayor of the city of Toronto," said Tory. 

"Because it is corrosive, this kind of racism, and this kind of marginalization and discrimination of all kinds and all places, it goes directly against those foundational values that we hold dear as Torontonians," he continued.

"This continuing racism leaves communities disengaged and alienated and disadvantaged in many ways from services and opportunities in their neighbourhoods, and in the city as a whole. It leaves people treated fundamentally differently from one another, with no other apparent explanation."

Meanwhile, many advocates that have been calling for the defunding and dismantling of police say they're sick and tired of reports and simply want to see real, concrete action. 

And while the mayor says he's confident that these recommendations will result in meaningful change when it comes to the systemic racism that is clearly prevalent in Toronto's police service, many marginalized Torontonians say they'll believe it when they see it.

Lead photo by

Jeremy Gilbert

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