TORONTO – Victims and families impacted by two major tragedies in Toronto this year have officially received millions of dollars raised to support their recovery.
The city says a campaign dubbed Toronto Strong raised more than $4 million to support both victims of an April van attack that killed 10 and injured 16, as well as a shooting on bustling Danforth Avenue that killed a teenage woman and a 10-year-old girl and wounded 13.
The funds were dispersed by former city mayor and longtime community activist Barbara Hall after consultations with victims, families, medical practitioners and social service providers.
The city did not say exactly how the money was distributed, but says deciding factors included both short and long-term injuries the survivors sustained.
It says the impacts of the deaths on surviving family members were also considered.
“We made a decision, really encouraged by those families most impacted, to give more of the money to those more seriously impacted with long-term issues,” Hall told Global News.
She said the money came from the generosity of neighbours and community members, as well as some of the victims who chose to give back portions of their compensation into the fund for those with longer-term needs.
However, Hall said, this is just one part of the response.
“This is just one piece — it will never, either fill the loss, which is life-lasting for more people, [or] be a total solution to their issues.”
Although the funding generated a lot of money for survivors, civil rights lawyer Saron Gebresellassi, who advocates for the victims of the Yonge Street van attack, said the amount does not go as far as they hoped.
“Every survivor of the Toronto van attack will have access to [the money] through their auto insurer,” she said. “It can sound like a lot but in our experience dealing with fatalities and people who are severely injured, that budget can get exhausted very quickly.”
Gebresellassi said she’s calling for the prime minister and premier to match the funds so those with long-term needs will be able to adjust to life after the tragedies.
So far, she said, she has engaged with both levels of government but there has been no formal response to a commitment to funding.
The city says it will start holding consultations on permanent memorials for the van attack and Danforth shooting victims early next year.
–With files from Global News’ Mark Carcasole
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