Richard J. Leary
Chief Executive Officer
Toronto Transit Commission
1900 Yonge Street
Toronto, ON M4S 1Z2
Dear Mr. Leary:
Re: OHRC letter to the Toronto Transit Commission CEO on proposed increases in police presence on TTC properties and vehicles
I am writing about the Toronto Transit Commission’s (TTC) July 2021 CEO Report, as well as recent news reporting about substantial increases in offences against customers and employees from spring 2020 to the present, as compared to the pre-pandemic period. While we note that these numbers are now trending down, we do understand that appropriate measures must be taken to ensure both employee and customer safety.
At the same time however, the OHRC is concerned about the section of your report that notes Toronto police officers “are being asked to increase their presence on TTC properties and vehicles where possible.”
As years of high-profile incidents have demonstrated, police presence – on TTC properties/vehicles or elsewhere – does not necessarily equal more safety for members of marginalized and vulnerable communities. In August 2020, the OHRC released A Disparate Impact, our second interim report in our inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination of Black persons by the Toronto Police Service, which revealed systemic patterns of discriminatory actions, including arrests, charges and use of force incidents, directed towards members of Black communities.
With this in mind, and in conjunction with the TTC’s recognition that "discrimination can be direct or indirect, and does not have to be intentional” (as stated in the TTC Respect and Dignity Policy), the OHRC trusts that the TTC will ensure:
- All measures taken to enhance employee and customer safety will be fully compliant with the Ontario Human Rights Code and, accordingly, will not result in over-policing
- The 10-Point Action Plan, currently being formulated under the rubric of safety and security, is informed by the perspectives of vulnerable and marginalized community members.
Should the OHRC be of any assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Ena Chadha, LL.B., LL.M.
cc: Hon. Doug Downey, Attorney General