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'It automatically means more peril': Community, activists react to proposed budget hike for Toronto police


Regis Korchinski-Paquet’s family, alongside community activists, are disappointed to learn the Toronto Police Service might be getting a nearly $50-million budget increase this year.

"It's very hurtful to our family," Peter Korchinski, Regis' father, told CTV News Toronto. "More police is not the answer."

Regis died in the presence of police officers in May 2020 when she fell from a balcony at her High Park Avenue apartment in the presence of Toronto police officers. An SIU investigation into her death found no grounds to charge the responding officers.

"They are doing nothing for our Black communities, they are doing nothing for any of these families but yet they [the city] are giving money out to the police force for what reason?" asked Claudette Korchinski-Paquet, Regis' mom.

The proposed budget increase means there will be 200 additional uniformed officers on Toronto streets, but Claudette believes that’s not the right approach to tackling safety in the city.

"We don't hear anyone speaking out about our children," she said. "When a police officer gets killed here it's a very big deal, which makes no sense. So far this year it's been what? Five police officers that have been killed by police? What about all the civilians that's been killed by police?"

The budget increase comes after the police force released its own internal report in June which showed police were more likely to use force against Black people, even when they were not perceived to be in possession of any weapons.

"We're not seeing $50 million invested in the mental health-care supports for Torontonians. We're not seeing a $50-million increase in housing. We're not seeing $50 million go to child care or food programs, [or] student nutrition," said activist Desmond Cole.

"All we're being told is that for your own good, you will be policed, whether you feel safe or not."

Cole added that it's been months since the Toronto Police released that report and they have yet to see any actionable change.

"Since that announcement last summer they have hired a new police chief who was part of a raid on the Pussy Palace [bathhouse] which he refuses to take accountability for, and they've increased their budget.

“No one's pretending that this is even a change moment," he said.

On Dec. 19, at the Change of Command ceremony, the city’s new police chief said he is prepared to offer an unreserved apology.

Meanwhile, Mayor John Tory defended the proposed increase by saying Torontonians are becoming more anxious about recent increasing violence they're seeing in the city.

“We must do everything we can to address crime and to keep people safe and have them feel safe in our city,” Tory said at a news conference Tuesday announcing the proposal.

In a statement, Toronto City Councillor Josh Matlow called the Mayor's decision to increase the police budget neither fact-based nor the most effective approach to preventing crime.

"Making our neighbourhoods truly safe will involve investing in addressing poverty, racialization, mental health, homelessness, and addiction through providing proven programs such as spaces for at-risk youth, job training, trauma counselling, and eviction prevention," the statement reads.

According to Toronto police, an action plan on that internal report will be presented in the coming year. Top Stories

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