It is time for the City of Toronto to take thoughtful and proactive measures to deal with youth violence no matter what neighbourhood it is found in. We cannot wait for another tragedy to spur more calls for blue ribbon panels and simplistic reactions. There have been many good reports that have already provided us with recommendations on how to move forward including The Review of the Roots of Youth Violence by Dr. Alvin Curling and The Honourable Roy McMurtry. Genuine, evidence-based action is needed now and without delay.
In February, 2013, with City Council's unanimous support, I asked City staff to develop a plan to take immediate action. I am very happy to share with you a letter from Dr. Curling commending Toronto City Council for tackling this urgent priority.
Since then, I have been working closely with City staff on a Youth Equity Strategy to support the most marginalized youth in Toronto – those who are at the highest risk to be involved in or victimized by violence. As the Youth Equity Strategy won’t be finished until this winter, which is too late for the 2014 City of Toronto budget, I pushed for a list of “quick wins” from City staff to move the Strategy forward in 2014 and also to test some promising pilot projects. You can click here to read a briefing note from City staff outlining these strategies including pilot partnerships with Toronto Community Housing, Toronto Public Library, and Toronto Police Services.
I will be clear: there is an up-front cost to these initiatives of about $600,000. You and I know that investing in our youth is a cost-effective way to build a stronger economy and healthier society, but I need your help convincing my colleagues on City Council of this fact.
Please come to City Hall on Wednesday, December 4, to make a deputation to the Community Development and Recreation Committee in support of Toronto’s most marginalized youth. If you are not able to make it to City Hall, please write to your local Councillor and the committee members to let them know that making the investments necessary to address the roots of youth violence is an important priority for you.
Thank you for your support.