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From Impact to Action: Final report into anti-Black racism by the Toronto Police Service

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We have heard the accounts for decades – stories of harm, conflict and fear resulting from anti-Black racism in policing. Some incidents received local, national or global media attention. Others, perhaps more damaging, did not capture the headlines, but are simply shared between friends or within communities.

For all members of society, these accounts can bring sadness, anger or shame. But for Black communities, the impact and pain caused by discriminatory policing run deeper. These are not stories – they are lived experiences.

The impacts of discriminatory policing are exponential in their effects. Racial profiling leads to a police stop. The police stop leads to a record. The record affects an employment opportunity. The stops compound, as the person slowly becomes someone who is “known to police.” The threat of physical harm looms, while every stop increases the chance of a charge, then an arrest. Every charge is a potential conviction, every conviction is potential incarceration. Another life turned upside-down. Another family broken. Another community ravaged.

These are the systemic effects of anti-Black racism.

The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) launched its Inquiry into anti-Black racism by the Toronto Police Service (TPS) in response to these experiences that Black communities have repeatedly identified over many decades.

In Ontario’s human rights system, the OHRC does not make legally binding determinations of Human Rights Code (Code) violations or liability – only the Human Rights Tribunal of Ontario (HRTO) can do that. But s. 31 of the Code gives the OHRC the power to initiate inquiries such as this one, to help identify and promote the elimination of discriminatory practices in Ontario.

To fulfill its statutory mandate, the OHRC must identify circumstances that, in its view, amount to discrimination, and make recommendations to help organizations eliminate those practices.

Through this Inquiry, the OHRC has sought to determine how anti-Black racism in society – a fact recognized by the courts and the police – has expressed itself in the policing of Black lives in Toronto. The Inquiry undertook a detailed examination of the experiences of Black people interacting with police in Toronto, and has been unique in gathering hard data together with the lived experiences of Black communities.

Based on the OHRC’s review of the facts, including the data, the lived experiences of Black communities, and case law, the OHRC finds that Black people are subjected to systemic racial discrimination, racial profiling, and anti-Black racism. Interviews with the TPS and Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB) and a review of thousands of pages of documents revealed gaps in TPS and TPSB policies, procedures, training, and accountability mechanisms that have helped perpetuate discrimination and contributed to mistrust of police among Black people.

As our consultations made clear, Black communities do not simply need another report with recommendations. The OHRC’s final report on its Inquiry into anti-Black racism by the TPS sets out a path to move From Impact to Action – a path of meaningful actions aimed at changing outcomes for Black communities.



March 18, 2024

Ontario Human Rights Commission written deputation to the Toronto Police Services Board on the implementation of recommendations from the OHRC’s report From Impact to Action



The Ontario Human Rights Commission (OHRC) released "From Impact to Action", its final report on anti-Black racism by the Toronto Police Service (TPS) in December 2023. The OHRC's report and recommendations underscore the importance of effectively addressing systemic racism and discrimination in law enforcement to build safer and more inclusive communities. This is the OHRC’s written deputation to the Toronto Police Services Board (TPSB). It is a response to the TPS and TPSB's written update to the Board on the status of implementing over 100 recommendations provided in the OHRC’s final report.


The Inquiry

In 2017, the OHRC launched an inquiry into anti-Black racism by the TPS in response to Black communities' negative experiences over many decades. The inquiry involved guidance from experts, meaningful engagement with Black communities, TPS and TPSB, the Toronto Police Association (TPA), volunteers who make up their advisory committees, including the TPSB’s Anti-Racism Advisory Panel (ARAP), and the Mental Health and Addictions Advisory Committee (MHAAP). The inquiry also assessed the TPS and TPSB's culture, training, policies, programs, procedures, and accountability mechanisms relating to racial profiling and discrimination.


Key Findings

The OHRC’s inquiry found that Black people are subjected to systemic racial discrimination, racial profiling, and anti-Black racism across the range of interactions with the Toronto Police Service. The TPS data gathered by the OHRC, including street checks, charges, arrests, and use of force, show that Black people are significantly overrepresented across the spectrum of policing interactions. The TPS’s analysis of more recent data also shows that Black people are overrepresented in TPS “enforcement actions,” use of force, and strip searches.

The inquiry found that the TPS policing practices and activities disproportionately affect Black people and contribute to racial profiling and discrimination against them. The TPS admitted this in a press conference and pledged to do better.

Notably, the inquiry found that there is a significant lack of trust between Black people and the police, which is attributed, in part, to the policies, procedures, training, and accountability mechanisms of TPS and TPSB. This contributes to the perpetuation of systemic racial discrimination, even with the implementation of TPS and TPSB reform initiatives.


Specific Replies to TPSB Response

In its response to the OHRC’s inquiry, the TPSB states that almost half of the recommendations require clarification. While clarification can be productive, it cannot be used to dispute or ignore recommendations. It is essential to know that within the primacy of the Code, the findings of the OHRC inquiry and recommendations govern; they are not optional. It is crucial to address and implement all the recommendations, that is, those which apply to the TPS or both TPS and TPSB.   

During the inquiry, a diverse range of Black communities recounted their unique lived experiences and perspectives on policing and public safety in Toronto. Black communities consistently called for enforceable recommendations to promote accountability. The OHRC commends the TPS and TPSB for introducing reform initiatives. However, despite the reforms implemented at the time of the final report, the OHRC found that the root problem persists. 

This necessitates the insertion of an enforcement agreement. Such an agreement is a leading practice; it would build trust and meet a goal of the TPS and TPSB as stated in their Equity Strategy – “to rebuild, repair and strengthen relationships with [Black communities], especially those we have failed in the past”. By entering an agreement, both parties solidify their commitment and demonstrate to the communities their commitment to accountability and building trust. Any enforcement mechanism would only be used as a last resort.


A Collaborative Human Rights-based Approach to Implementation and Enforcement of Recommendations

The recommendations in From Impact to Action reflect the OHRC's work noted above and reported in A Collective Impact and A Disparate Impact. These recommendations set a path to meaningful actions to change outcomes for Black communities. The Ontario Human Rights Code empowers the OHRC to investigate practices that are systemically discriminatory and recommend solutions. The OHRC is accountable to the public and has a legal duty to ensure its recommended solutions are implemented and enforced. The Code holds primacy in Ontario. The OHRC is Ontario’s human rights expert. The OHRC exercised its mandate, conducted an inquiry on the TPS and TPSB and based on its findings, recommended actions they must take to meet their obligation under the Code. To be compliant with the Code, the TPS and TPSB must implement the recommendations to address systemic racial discrimination, racial profiling, and anti-Black racism.

The OHRC is pleased that the TPS and TPSB have turned their minds to creating an Equity Strategy and have started the important work of determining where there is alignment with the OHRC’s recommendations. Four of its priorities relate to specific issues identified in the OHRC’s inquiry. The OHRC acknowledges that since the inquiry began,​ the TPS and TPSB have made these and other changes​ to policies and procedures. Some of that work is reflected in TPS’s report to the Board. The report provides an overview of TPS's approach to categorizing and implementing the 67 recommendations they identify as relating to its service. However, apart from the recommendations directed to the SIU and Ontario, the recommendations are for the TPS and the TPSB.

They have identified 58 of the OHRC’s recommendations, which align with their Equity Strategy. Human rights-based principles must be embedded in the Equity Strategy Framework and other reform initiatives. This is vital. Here is where the work should begin.

As this work continues, we encourage the TPS and TPSB to develop a detailed and transparent system to evaluate how their work responds to the OHRC’s recommendations.



The OHRC is fully committed to working with TPS and TPSB to implement the recommendations on which they are aligned but believes that an enforceable agreement is a crucial step in the right direction.

We – the leaders of two essential institutions in our province – are charged with the duty to maintain peace, order, and good government. According to the late Hon. Jim Flaherty, no service is more honourable than public service. So, when the annals about Ontario’s public servants are written, what do you want yours to say? …Let it be, I dedicated community above self because you took steps to tackle anti-Black racism in policing. To each member of the TPS and TPSB, I urge you to make that your legacy. Thank you.



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