(TORONTO) Today, former Council budget chief and mayoral candidate David Soknacki announced that if elected, he would personally lead the process to annually save $65m or more from the City’s police budget of just under $1b. Over four years, over $200m would be freed up for reinvestment in transit, infrastructure repairs and other services.
“I will sit on the Police Board,” Soknacki said. “If we can fix the overheated police budget, we can afford to invest in other priority services again.”
Soknacki pointed to the controversy over Toronto’s wasteful shift model as the first specific policy from his savings plan. “There’s only 24 hours in a day, but we pay for 28 hours of policing through our shift structure,” he said. “Changing that one policy should save $25m or more toward my $65m annual savings target.”
The growing police budget has become an urgent challenge at City Hall, Soknacki’s campaign released charts and graphics yesterday to highlight four specific facts:
- Seventy cents of every new tax dollar raised in the last five years has gone to the Toronto Police Service budget.
- The Police Service’s net budget has increased 2.3 times faster than the cost-of-living in the last decade.
- If police budget growth had simply been held to inflation in the last decade, Toronto would have $180m more budget room this year alone, and $1.4b would have been saved for other priorities over that decade.
“For too long, too many of us have behaved as if rising police budgets are untouchable or unfixable, even though crime rates are falling in most cities,” Soknacki said. “The result: average increases in the police budget of almost $30m while other services struggle for lack of long-term investment.”
The former 3-term Scarborough councillor will release further details of his plan over the next two weeks. He also argued that changes to police policy could actually improve public safety by modernizing the service in advance of a promised strategic review.
“The advice I’ve heard is that tested reforms and proactive bargaining can deliver savings without reducing the frontline police complement by a single officer,” he said.
For more information, please contact Supriya Dwivedi at firstname.lastname@example.org or (416) 520-8078.