Remarks by Interim Chief Commissioner Ena Chadha at the August 10, 2020, news conference on the release of A Disparate Impact: Second interim report on the inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination of Black persons by the Toronto Police Service
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Thank you to community members and the media for joining us this morning for this virtual news conference.
First, I wish to express gratitude that we are on the traditional territories of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and I want to pay respect to the long history and enduring contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Métis peoples of this land.
Also, the Ontario Human Rights Commission wishes to acknowledge the current global imperative to combat systemic racism. The OHRC stands with Black communities across Ontario in confronting and condemning anti-Black racism, often experienced through pernicious racial profiling.
Today the OHRC is releasing its second interim report, entitled A Disparate Impact, as part of its inquiry into racial profiling and racial discrimination of Black persons by the Toronto Police Service.
Concerns about anti-Black racism in policing in Toronto have persisted for over four decades. We must remember the names of the many Black lives that, decade after decade, have tragically ended at the hands of the police in Toronto ̶ for example, people like: Buddy Evans in 1978; Lester Donaldson in 1988; Albert Moses in 1994; Alexander Manon in 2010; and Andrew Loku in 2015, and the many others we have lost in between.
We are deeply concerned when a police response to a 911 call for help because someone is distraught results in death, as was the recent case with Regis Korchinski-Paquet.
We remember the hundreds of protestors who marched in 1988, and we see the thousands of protestors who march today.
I, as well as the OHRC’s team, and to a larger extent many Ontarians, appreciate the commitment, the hard work and the sacrifices of Toronto Police Services’ members who go out to work on our behalf each day.
In our work, the OHRC respects and acknowledge how complex, demanding and difficult the job of front-line policing truly is.
In 2017, when we launched this inquiry into racial profiling, the goal was, and still is, to build trust between the Black communities and the Toronto Police by empirically studying the issues to pinpoint the problem areas, and by making strong recommendations to address the root causes of the problems.
We retained renowned criminologist Dr. Scot Wortley to assist with the inquiry and his expert analysis and insights were a major component of our first interim report, called A Collective Impact, released in December 2018.
The findings in A Collective Impact were very troubling and continue to garner public attention to this day. Recently, the Supreme Court of Canada recognized the OHRC’s work in the A Collective Impact as a highly authoritative. The report contained Dr. Wortley’s analysis of data obtained by OHRC from the Special Investigations Unit.
Among other things, Dr. Wortley found that between 2013 and 2017, a Black person was nearly 20 times more likely than a White person to be the victim of a fatal shooting by the Toronto Police Service.
A Collective Impact also included the results of our broad consultation with Black communities across Toronto. It documented the pervasive and painful experiences Black communities have in their interactions with law enforcement.
A Disparate Impact
Today, in the OHRC’s second interim report, A Disparate Impact, we release findings that expose chronic concerns related to policing practices. The report’s results are highly disturbing and confirm what Black communities have said for decades – that Black people bear a disproportionate burden of law enforcement.
The OHRC and Dr. Wortely’s research is clear and convincing that Black people are more likely to be charged, over-charged and more likely to be arrested by the Toronto police and Black people are more likely to be struck, shot or killed by the Toronto police.
These findings demonstrate the urgent need to concretely address racial inequities, to regain community trust and to institute meaningful and binding changes that will transform policing and end suffering.
Ontarians often express the view that racial disparities in police use of force in Toronto is not as serious as in the United States. However, Dr. Wortley’s research reveals a different picture that compels us to stop perpetuating this myth. Specifically, the likelihood of a Black person being shot by police in Toronto is just as high as for a Black person in the average city in the United States.
The time for debate about whether systemic or anti-Black racism exists is over. It is time to come together to change law enforcement institutions and systems that produce such disparate outcomes – community trust and safety, especially the safety of Black lives, depend on it.
Calls for action
The report’s findings cannot be ignored – that’s why I am here today on behalf of the OHRC to present our two calls for action.
First, we call on the Toronto Police Service, Toronto Police Services Board and the City of Toronto to formally establish a process, a process with Black communities and organizations and with the OHRC, to adopt and implement legally binding remedies. We are seeking legally binding remedies that will result in fundamental shifts in the practices and culture of policing, and address and eliminate systemic racism and anti-Black racial bias in policing.
The OHRC commenced this dialogue with the TPS, the TPSB and the City. The TPS and TPSB have told us that they are open to working with the OHRC and working with communities to explore a process on fashioning solutions. We hope that these discussions with the TPS and TPSB will include holistic and structural changes that will ensure accountability through broad legally binding remedies.
I informed the TPS, the TPSB and the City that to promote positive change, Black communities must be engaged at every step in the process. That's why we have commenced and will continue to engage Black communities in these discussions, to ensure their perspectives are reflected in the final outcomes.
Second, we call on the government of Ontario to establish a legislative and/or regulatory framework to directly address systemic racism and anti-Black racial bias in policing.
Provincial law must require all police services in Ontario to collect and analyze comprehensive, disaggregated race-based data across the full spectrum of policing activities and provide for transparent and effective accountability processes to ensure that officers who engage in racial profiling or discrimination are effectively dealt with.
We look forward to productively working with the Province on this call to action.
In closing, given the magnitude of the data in the OHRC’s second interim report, it is incumbent on us all to re-envision the practices, policies, procedures and, importantly, the perceptions that shape policing in our city.
The disproportionalities and disparities in our report are more than just statistics – they are Black lives, and Black lives matter. We must see action now.