Toronto board of health looks into ‘evidence-informed’ approach to gun violence
Published Monday, July 16, 2018 6:23PM EDT Last Updated Monday, July 16, 2018 8:21PM EDT
Families and advocates impacted by gun crimes took their pleas for a more effective approach to reducing violence in the city to the Toronto board of health on Monday.
The board was receiving a progress report on a research project that will try to pinpoint the root causes of community violence and identify “evidence-informed interventions” to prevent it.
The speakers noted that policing is not an effective way of reducing gun violence in the city.
Stacey King, the mother of three children who were shot at a Scarborough playground in June, told CTV News Toronto outside city hall that community violence is only getting worse and “somebody needs to help speak and put a stop to it.”
“I'm not saying that we can put a stop to it right away. Nothing happens overnight, but we're trying to prevent it as much as we can and we need to look at why it's getting increased and getting worse,” she added.
"Too many young kids are dying, too many young kids have access to guns," King said before the board. "We need to put a stop to this. When is this going to stop?"
King told CP24 after the meeting that putting police officers on the street is not going to help stop gun violence in the city and that Toronto’s mayor needs to “look deeper into this.”
Last week, Toronto Police Chief Mark Saunders announced that up to 200 additional front-line officers will be deployed to try and help curb gun violence in at risk communities. These officers would be posted between the hours of 7 p.m. and 3 a.m. throughout the summer, starting on July 20.
Zya Brown, the founder of Think 2wice, an organization that provides programming to support youth from at risk communities, said she has been working in the field since 2005 but has “lived it” her whole life.
“I think we need to focus on prevention,” Brown said in the meeting. “I think we need to bring in people who have experience.”
Louis March, the founder of Zero Gun Violence Movement, told the board that violence doesn’t “happen just like that.”
“It’s a reflection of what we did not do yesterday and what we continue to do today.”
The research project stems from a March request from the board of health asking the medical officer to examine “the extent of exposure to community violence and its physical and mental health impacts in Toronto.”
The medical officer was also asked to identify programs that could help support these communities and “identify effective approaches for the City of Toronto to provide evidence-informed approach when shooting incidents occur.”
According to Toronto police, there have been 27 gun-related homicides in 2018, which is 10 more than this time last year.
There have also been 220 non-fatal shootings, with 286 victims.
Toronto Public Health is planning on completing the research project by mid-2019.
The board also endorsed a motion put forward by councillor Joe Cressy asking city council to increase funding for Toronto’s community violence prevention programs by $400,000.
-With files from The Canadian Press