To end police violence and killing of Black, Indigenous and other racialized people in Canada, we must defund the police and resource communities. The following statement traces how the Alliance for Healthier Communities and the 110 community-governed primary health care organizations that make up the Alliance arrived at this position, why, and what our next steps are to advocate for structural changes to policing in Canada. 

Experiences with policing in Canada are not uniform; the experiences people have when interacting with police forces are deeply influenced by race, social and economic factors. In Ontario, Indigenous and Black people experience disproportionate harm and violence through policing. This is a fact evident in the growing number of lives lost and lives harmed through police violence -- including but not limited to Regis Korchinski- Paquet, D’Andre Campbell, Rodney Levi, Randy Cochrane, Chantel Moore, Sammy Yatim, Greg Ritchie, Dafonte Miller, Chadd Facey, and Orlando Brown. Even as awareness has risen in the last several years in Canada, police violence continues to harm racialized populations, oversight structures continue to fail, and police budgets continue to grow.

We know Indigenous people are nearly 10 times more likely to be killed by police than white people. While making up five per cent of Canada’s population, Indigenous people account for a massively disproportionate number of the national prisoner count at nearly 30 per cent[1]. Similarly, a study focused on Toronto found that Black people are cited as being 20 per cent more likely to be shot and killed by police than white people in the city[2]

These statistics are stark. Ending police violence, saving lives and changing these statistics will require changing the structures that embed systemic racism, discrimination and violence against racialized people into Canada’s methods and institutions of policing. Supporting communities, systemically combatting racism, and addressing root causes of discrimination – social, economic and otherwise – must play larger roles than they do now in community safety and wellbeing.

The Alliance for Healthier Communities will advocate for defunding the police and investing resources into community-run initiatives and Black and Indigenous-led community programs. The Alliance for Healthier Communities and the Alliance’s members, which provide comprehensive primary health care, hold collective commitments to address structural and systemic factors that contribute to the oppression of Indigenous and Black people, as expressed in our Health Equity Charter. We seek the most effective and equitable solutions to police violence from a community perspective. 

We advocate for all levels of government to reduce funding for police budgets, and call for the reallocation of these funds to community-run programs that communities themselves design, lead and manage. As our first point of action, we champion reductions to municipal budgets for police services -- especially in advance of the Ontario provincial election in June, and municipal elections in October.

We recognize some Alliance members are already embarking on community programs to support safe crisis responses such as the Community Crisis Support Service pilot co-led by TAIBU Community Health Centre (CHC), and supported by Black Creek CHC and Regent Park CHC. These programs will help support health equity for Black, Indigenous and other and marginalized communities in Canada by interrupting the structures, policies and procedures that lead to police violence. The Alliance commits to advocate for more innovative and community-led safe crisis response programs across Ontario with funding reallocated from police services budgets.

At the Alliance, work is underway to address health inequities and barriers to wellbeing through commitments to tackling Anti-Black Racism. This will include training for Alliance members’ staff, and a commitment to address how a lack of decent work, access to healthy food, and adequate and safe housing impact the health of Black people, among other systemic determinants of health. To bring this work together and connect it overall to Black health, the Alliance is dedicating resources to work with the Black Health Committee to implement the Black Health Strategy to address the impacts of racism and discrimination on the health of Black communities. The Alliance provides education to members on the issue of police violence and its impact on Black, Indigenous and marginalized populations. We also commit to sharing information regarding the impact of policing on marginalized communities through policy statements and social media posts. Lastly, we commit to working with our partners in the health and social services sectors to advance alternatives to policing wherever possible, and to supporting defunding police advocacy.

[1] Morin B. The indigenous people killed by Canada's police. Al Jazeera. Published March 25, 2021. Accessed November 29, 2021.

[2] Cecco L. Black Toronto residents 20 times more likely to be shot dead by police, study says. The Guardian. Published December 10, 2018. Accessed November 29, 2021. 

Thursday, May 5, 2022