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Knia

Singh Mayoral Campaign 2018


info@kniasingh2018.ca
1017 Dupont St. Tor. On., M6H 1Z7
0ffice (416) 900-5614

September 17, 2018

10-POINT PLAN FOR A SAFER TORONTO

September 17, 2018

This 10-Point Plan is presented as a path to permanently reducing gun violence in the city of Toronto. It
recognizes that Toronto is considered a safe city due to the low rates of violence per capita, but as a
Toronto resident for 44 years the change in culture around violence, especially amongst young people is
alarming, disturbing, and must be immediately addressed.

Affordable housing, lower taxes, and efficient transportation will have no bearing on this city if the
residents do not feel safe to leave their homes. We cannot allow Torontonians to live their lives in
constant fear. As your candidate for Mayor, I am putting forth a plan that will immediately create
opportunities to reduce the incidents of violence in our city.

We cannot afford to distribute resources and employ tactics that are not effective. We cannot afford to
improperly diagnose the problem.
We cannot afford to allow our residents to suffer, be at-risk, or live in fear.

1. TDSB and TCDSB must freeze all school suspensions and expulsions.
2. Toronto Social Services to provide conflict-resolution services for neighbour-
hoods/individuals in dispute that feel their life is in danger.
3. Identify the causes of gun violence accurately. If there is a gang problem identify the
gangs.
4. City/Neighbourhood exchange partnerships to provide alternative environment for at-
risk individuals.
5. Funds allocated for Community programs should go directly to at risk individuals and
their families who are in immediate need of support.
6. Invite the TOP 100 employers in Toronto to provide stable salaried positions for those
at-risk with or without a criminal record.
7. Citywide registry for adults that want to provide mentorship support for at-risk
individuals.
8. Provide mental health counseling for those who are suffering from PTSD and other
afflictions due to their experiences.
9. City of Toronto partnership with Colleges and Universities to place at-risk individuals
seeking higher education in post-secondary school.
10. 24-hour crisis hotline and access to Community Centres across Toronto.

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10-POINT PLAN

1. TDSB and TCDSB must freeze all school suspensions and expulsions.

A suspension at any age or grade is the foundation for the school to prison pipeline, which is an
unfortunate reality in this city. Children must be supported and engaged in their education whether they
are an A student, or whether they face difficulties in class.

The problems that arise in class can be from a variety of sources, however ensuring that the student
remains welcome, engaged and understood is far better than allowing them to feel alienated,
unwanted, and exiled from a learning environment with their friends.

2. Toronto Social Services to provide conflict-resolution services for neighbour-


hoods/individuals in dispute that feel their life is in danger.

The lack of conflict-resolution is a major problem when it comes to the violence that is taking place in
Toronto’s streets. There are people who get into disputes with friends, classmates, acquaintances and
even strangers, yet have no way of communicating with their opposition in order to find a resolution to
whatever conflict they are experiencing.

If at-risk youth know there is a third-party that can intervene in a miscommunication, or a serious
incident that has the potential to become worse, then they will take advantage of those services. Not
everyone who gets into conflict wants to be in conflict, and sometimes it is just about making the first
step towards reconciliation.

The city must make available, conflict resolution seminars for all Torontonians, especially young people,
which will equip them with the tools that will teach them how to de-escalate a potentially volatile
situation. These can be held monthly at all of the major city centres we have throughout Toronto.

3. Identify the causes of gun violence accurately. If there is a gang problem identify the
gangs.

Far too often when there is a shooting there is an immediate presumption that it is gang-related. If
Toronto continues to allude to there being gang shootings then the gangs must be identified by the
police in order to protect the public, and to ensure that any resources allocated to stopping the violence
are done effectively.

If it is determined that individuals are making poor choices that lead them to pick up a gun and use it,
then we know that we have to place more emphasis on providing supports and opportunities that do
not lead to those poor choices.

If it is determined that gangs are the source of the majority of gun violence, that would mean there is
some form of organization, hierarchy, financial gain, control over territory, initiation, gang symbols, and

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feuds over territory. The resources required to reduce gun violence caused by gangs compared to those
perpetrated by individuals are quite different and it is important we provide the most effective
prevention methods available.

4. City/Neighbourhood exchange partnerships to provide alternative environment for at-


risk individuals.

The concentration of poverty, and lack of positive opportunity for at-risk individuals reinforces the
perception that there is no alternative to crime. If those who are at-risk are provided an opportunity to
live in a different environment, free of the daily conflicts they experience they, will be exposed to a way
of life that starts to look attainable for them.

Currently there are residents of Toronto that live in the shadows, as stated by Louis March of the Zero
Gun Violence movement. These Torontonians have become accustomed to wearing hoodies over their
head when they go out, they refrain from attending public places, they feel safer going out at night
instead of the day in fear that someone will see them and attempt to harm them. This is no way a
Torontonian should ever have to live.

Being able to walk outside without being targeted because of how you look, or the neigbourhood you
live in is a luxury most Torontonians have, but the reality is there are far too many that are subject to
that existence. Living that way daily creates skepticism of others and may cause a defensive existence to
become an offensive one. Reducing gun violence in Toronto requires a broad approach that is based on
social interactions and environments. No one is born with a gun in his or her hand, but the environment
has created the circumstances where some feel it is necessary. We have to provide the opportunity for
at-risk residents to experience a pro-social way of life.

5. Funds allocated for Community service programs should go directly to at risk


individuals and their families who are in immediate need of support.

In my first hand experience working with the community for over 20 years it is evident that the causes
for crime are poverty. Youth are engaging in shoplifting, theft and robberies of schoolmates just so they
can buy food. If the funds allocated to address violence went to the at-risk youth directly instead of
administrative expenses there would be a reduction of crime and an expansion of employment and pro-
social behaviours.

For example, an at-risk youth that is currently not in school or working could benefit from an allocation
of funds to employers that would hire youth for after school jobs if they maintain daily punctual
attendance at school. If they fail to attend classes daily and on time, they would not receive the financial
benefit of after school employment.

In my conversations with frontline workers it is evident that the majority of funding made available is
going to salaries and administration instead of the individuals that are mostly affected by violence.

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6. Invite the TOP 100 employers in Toronto to provide permanent salaried positions for
adults at-risk with or without a criminal record.

The truth is there are many skilled residents of Toronto who cannot secure a living wage, or career
employment due to a criminal record, or because of their appearance.

It is important that the progressive employers in Toronto work closely with the community leaders to
develop a system that provides opportunities to those who have never had one before.

The more at-risk adults that can obtain permanent employment that will allow them to have a career is
the less we will see those same at-risk adults turning to crime and violence as a way to make money.

7. Citywide registry for adults that want to provide mentorship support for at-risk
individuals.

There are countless upstanding residents of Toronto that want to be part of the solutions. Currently
there are countless community groups and organizations that want to support young people with
positive caring adults in their lives who they can learn from and see a positive example of hard work,
discipline and success.

The city of Toronto’s Social Service department should support an intake and database of registered
mentors that can be matched up with young people and community groups that are looking for
mentors.

Having a citywide registry enables Toronto residents to easily apply and be available for the community.
It takes the guesswork out of deciding which community centre or program to go to if there is one
central place where mentors are making themselves available.

8. Provide mental health counseling for those who are suffering from PTSD and other
afflictions due to their experiences.

The city of Toronto Social Services must make counseling services available to all those who are at-risk
who have been exposed to violence. There are too many young people who are living with the trauma
of witnessing or losing people close to them through violence.

It is important that their experiences are not normalized to the extent that they believe it is just the way
it is. The residents of our city must be able to state that the loss of life through violence is wrong,
unnatural and unacceptable. Through counseling and open dialogue those affected can come to terms
with their grief and remove themselves from risky situations and actively be a part of ending the
violence instead of contributing to it.

9. City of Toronto partnership with Colleges and Universities to place at-risk individuals
seeking higher education in post-secondary school.

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Education is the key to success, and there are many Torontonians that believe their chance to go to
University or College has passed due to their age, or performance in school.

Bridging programs are an extremely effective way of re-engaging those who want to pursue higher
education but have had difficulty getting there in their earlier years. I am an example of someone who
started University at the age of 36, and became a lawyer as a result.

The post-secondary education environment is one that will deter criminal activity, and as a result
violence. Ontario Universities and Colleges can contribute to the reduction of gun violence by providing
opportunities to those who felt they might have never had a chance. Statistics show there is a direct link
to income success and education; therefore, an increase in at-risk individuals attending College or
University will as a result reduce the number of violent incidents in our city.

10. 24-hour crisis hotline and access to Community Centres across Toronto.

The current model of providing services from 9am to 5pm does not address those that are in most need
of community services. A model from 9pm to 5am is where the community resources are needed the
most.

Each of Toronto’s former municipalities (York, East York, North York, Etobicoke, Scarborough and
Toronto) should have a 24-hour community centre and crisis hotline that would provide a place for
those experiencing distress to go and seek assistance either in person or by telephone.

The access to community centres across the city is limited; they close too early and do not address those
who are in need the most. A 24-hour model will provide much needed support and safety for those who
are at-risk.


Conclusion

As Torontonians, we should want to prevent gun violence instead of address it after it has already
occurred. The best way to prevent violence is to understand what is causing it. The Roots of Youth
Violence Report 2008 is available and should be reviewed to understand what is happening right now.
Spending $4 million on shot spotter technology that detects gunshots after they happen does not save
lives. All three levels of government must match what they have provided to the police and provide
financial support to preventative measures. *This 10-point plan can be paid for with the $18.75 million
(two-thirds of the 25 million) that Mayor Tory stated the city would provide to addressing root causes.

Sincerely,



Knia (George) Singh J.D.
Toronto Mayoral Candidate