Mayoral Candidate will Invest in Programs that Address the Root Causes of Violence
April 5, 2023 – At a campaign launch event this morning, mayoral candidate Josh Matlow announced a $115 million Community Health & Safety Fund to address the root causes of violent crime. Recognizing that real action is needed to curb the random acts of violence on the TTC and in our neighbourhoods, Matlow proposed a new approach for the City based on extensive evidence that shows investing in community interventions and supports significantly reduces violence.
The Community Health & Safety Fund will provide services that address well-known risk factors for criminal behaviour, including poverty, racism and trauma. Vital supports include: expanding mental health crisis teams that specialize in de-escalation on the TTC and across the city; additional and improved shelter beds to ensure vulnerable people have places to go; mental health and addiction counselling; safe spaces for at-risk youth; job training; recreation programming; expanded library access; shelter improvements; childcare; services for unhoused residents and eviction prevention. The Community Health & Safety Fund will be financed through stabilizing the annual police budget of $1.16 billion for three years. (1) This transfer of responsibility from the police to community-based professionals will provide a better balance between enforcement and vital supports that address root causes of crime.
“The current approach to community safety isn’t working. For too long, we’ve expected police to do too much. They aren’t social workers, youth counsellors or public health nurses. Let’s allow them to focus on solving crimes while properly resourcing community experts who can prevent violent incidents before they happen,” says Matlow. “These are complex, but solvable issues. We know how to make our neighbourhoods safe, but we haven’t seen the political will to act on the evidence. Study after study shows that investments in community support for mental health, addiction, homelessness and economic disadvantage create opportunity and prevent crime.”
Matlow will work with the City’s Auditor General and the Toronto Police Services Board to support the police in finding efficiencies while ensuring they can focus on the jobs they are trained for.
Experts draw a direct connection between investments in social determinants of health and measurable reductions in rates of crime and violence:
- The Province of Ontario’s Roots of Youth Violence Report by Dr. Alvin Curling and Justice Roy McMurtry and the City of Toronto’s Youth Equity Strategy spell out that programs offering skills training, trauma counselling, recreation activities and mentoring can reduce crime and give vulnerable young people opportunities to succeed.
- New York City implemented a community-based public health approach to safety termed "Cure Violence" in 2015. The approach included education and fostering social connection. The John Jay College of Criminal Justice found that gun injuries were down 36 per cent in the South Bronx and 50 per cent in Brooklyn compared to control areas with similar demographics during the same period. (2)
- Statistical modelling on causal effects of violent crime from NYU shows that every 10 additional organizations focusing on crime and community life in a city with 100,000 residents leads to a 9 per cent reduction in the murder rate, a 6 per cent reduction in the violent crime rate, and a 4 percent reduction in the property crime rate. (3)
As a councillor, Josh Matlow initiated the city’s Youth Equity Strategy in 2013 and fought for the creation of 20 new Youth Spaces across Toronto between 2014 and 2020.
“We cannot arrest our way out of violence. We can make our community safer by investing in community-level support, which will also improve the efficiency of our police force by letting them focus on what they do best,” says Matlow.
There is no evidence to suggest that an increase in officers or money invested into police reduces crime. In fact, between 2001 and 2012, the number of Toronto police officers per capita declined five per cent, while crime in the city dropped 41 per cent.
To learn more about Josh Matlow’s mayoral campaign to make Toronto a city that works, the safe, affordable, livable city that we all know it can be, please visit VoteMatlow.ca.
1 $115 million based on reallocating 3.3% inflation increase (average of Bank of Canada and TD forecasts) to community services.