Premier Doug Ford insists Toronto city council should address gun violence at special meeting on Monday
City council is scheduled to discuss the legal options available to fight the Better Local Government Act. The bill, passed by the Ontario legislature this week, will reduce council seats to 25 from 47. The premier insists in his letter that the issue of gun violence should be added to the agenda as well.
“Already in 2018, Toronto is on pace to have the deadliest gun-related homicide rate in years,” Ford wrote in a letter to the mayor.
“This is unacceptable, and requires immediate action from all levels of government without reservation.”
The Ontario government announced last week it will spend $25 million over the next four years to tackle gun violence and gang activity in Toronto.
Ford said he is asking the federal and municipal government to match the cash infusion. Part of funds include $7.6 million for “legal SWAT teams” to be placed at each of the city’s six provincial courthouses, dedicated to prosecuting gun crime cases.
The province will also spend $18 million to provide additional digital, investigative and analytical tools to Toronto police to help them fight drug gangs and gun crime.
“I implore you, along with Toronto City Council to address this critical issue at your meeting on August 20th and add funding for guns and gangs to the City Council agenda,” Ford said.
“The people of Toronto, and by extension Ontario, need and deserve to feel safe in the city and our great province.”
A recent poll, conducted by Ipsos exclusively for Global News, found that 81 per cent of Torontonians believe there is a serious gun problem in the city.
Sixty-four per cent of respondents said they avoid certain neighbourhoods because they fear for their safety, but 56 per cent disagree the gun violence in Toronto is contained to only a few neighbourhoods, which suggests residents view the gun violence issue as a more widespread problem.
The call to combat gun violence comes after a series of high-profile shootings.
The mass shooting on Danforth Avenue last month killed two people and left 13 others injured.
A month prior, two sisters, aged five and nine, were shot at a playground near a residential complex in the city’s north end.
VIDEO: Chief Saunders responds to poll numbers showing most Torontonians fearful of being shot
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