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Mitzie Hunter, Josh Matlow pitch Toronto transit safety plans

Two more Toronto mayoral candidates are pitching their plans to get safety on the TTC back on track following several high-profile incidents of violence on the network in the past year.

After submitting her nomination papers on Monday, Mitzie Hunter unveiled her five-point plan Wednesday which lists support for those struggling with mental health, addiction, and homelessness as a top priority.

To that end, Hunter says she wants to pair transit officers up with social workers to “de-emphasize sole focus on enforcement by transit officers and emphasize public safety.”

“People will not return to using transit if they don’t feel safe and secure,” the Liberal MPP said in a news release. “We need people to feel safe and to actually be safe. My five-point TTC safety plan will achieve that.”

Beyond mental health supports, Hunter said she wants to install glass sliding doors on all subway platforms to act as a track-level barrier, after Toronto's busiest subway station, Bloor-Yonge, was the site of three attempted pushings in 2023.

Candidate Brad Bradford also called for barriers to be installed on subway platforms on Tuesday, starting with high-traffic stations like Bloor-Yonge, Eglinton, Finch, and St. George.

Both candidates face the same challenge with such a campaign promise: it’s expensive -- the TTC's latest estimates claim it could cost north of $1.35 billion.

However, Hunter said the cost is justified and that the barriers work in other modern transit systems like those in Tokyo, Copenhagen, and Dubai.

“We need to begin an affordable transition to this innovation, starting with the busiest stations,” Hunter said.

Bradford says the barrier is needed, but the current city councillor said he believes there could be cheaper, more affordable ways to install them.

"We really just need a barrier to prevent people from going onto the track," he said.

Meanwhile, Josh Matlow touted his $115-million “Community Health and Safety Fund” as the answer to Toronto’s transit safety woes.

The fund, which he said addresses “the root causes of violent crime,” would be financed by “stabilizing” the Toronto Police Service’s annual $1.16-billion budget for three years.

“For too long, we’ve expected police to do too much…Let’s allow them to focus on solving crimes while properly resourcing community experts who can prevent violent incidents before they happen,” the longtime city councillor said Wednesday.

Like Hunter’s plan, Matlow said his platform would deliver expanded mental health supports by way of transit crisis teams specializing in de-escalation as well as additional and improved shelter access. 

Toronto mayoral candidates Mitzie Hunter (left) and Josh Matlow are seen in these images. (Twitter)


The pitches for increased transit safety come as the president of the Amalgamated Transit Union Canada said the number of violent incidents on the TTC is out of control.

“These are daily occurrences, right across this city and right across this country. We can’t even quantify the number of incidences that are happening because there is no reporting mechanism,” John Di Nino told NEWSTALK 1010’S Moore in the Morning on Wednesday.

Di Nino was joined by members of the NDP at Queen’s Park earlier this morning to call on the Ford government to better address the root issues of the problems on the TTC beyond policing.

“We’re calling for action, we’re calling for increased vigilance -- not necessarily policing -- but to have enough crisis workers out there to assist in some of these difficult situations and to be able to bring some comfort and support for riders and for those individuals who are living through mental health issues and crisis and addictions,” Di Nino said.

Last month, Toronto police ended extra patrols on the TTC implemented in response to the increased violence due to a lack of municipal funding.

The boosted police presence was covered by police officers working overtime shifts at a total cost of roughly $1.5 million per month, something the city said it could not afford indefinitely without more funding.

People wait for a subway train inside Dundas Station in downtown Toronto, Saturday, April 1, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Cole Burston Top Stories


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