Critics worried report on police reform will amount to nothing but ‘lip service’

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TORONTO — Critics say they worry a series of recommendations aimed at reforming Toronto police falls significantly short of what’s needed to bring about meaningful change.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission says it is concerned the report presented at today’s Toronto Police Services Board meeting “will amount to mere lip service.”

In a written deputation, the commission — which released its second report on systemic racism in the Toronto force last week — says the report largely provides “non-binding directions to police staff to consider additional reforms.”

The report, which the board says is meant to begin addressing systemic anti-Black and anti-Indigenous racism, was released last week and is being debated today.

It lays out 81 recommendations, with some calling for greater transparency on the police budget and policies, including on use of force.

The document does not, however, support a push from protesters and community groups to defund the force, saying the board “cannot impose any arbitrary cut in the police budget” or one that leads to a gap in police services.

It incorporates an earlier report that was put on hold to allow for public consultations last month, a preliminary summary of those consultations, directions from Toronto city council, and input from advocates and the board’s advisory panels.

The report says the financial implications of the recommendations are “unknown at this time,” and will be assessed on an ongoing basis if the plan is approved.