Toronto Mayor Rob Ford has declared a meeting with Ontario Premier Dalton McGuinty a success after securing stable funding for a special police unit charged with addressing the root causes of violence.
Funding for the Toronto anti-violence intervention strategy (TAVIS) unit comes from the province and was due to run out at the end of the fiscal year. However, Ford said Monday the premier has committed to extending that funding.
"I think that's a huge victory for the taxpayers of Toronto," Ford said in brief remarks after a meeting Monday afternoon with the premier and Toronto police Chief Bill Blair that was called in the wake of a recent spate of violent gun crime in the city.
"I take Mr. McGuinty at his word. He told me straight out and no, there was no BS. I wasn’t going to sit there and listen to it," Ford said.
"I asked for funding for TAVIS and he said, 'Yes, we're going to continue funding TAVIS.' That’s what the people want. People want to live in this great city, which it is, and people want to come here and create jobs and have a safe environment to create jobs."
McGuinty, meanwhile, announced an additional $500,000 in funding to improve co-ordination between Toronto police, other GTA police forces and the Ontario Provincial Police. He also said $500,000 in funding to community groups will be "fast-tracked," in addition to continued funding for TAVIS.
The premier also called for the city to "dig a little deeper" when it comes to solutions for fighting gun crime, be it through increased policing or more community support. He said it "would be great" if the federal government could "come to the table with something."
"But I also have asked the mayor to give some thought to the municipality coming to the table, I think in particular to better support either police services, stronger community supports or a combination,"McGuinty said.
McGuinty's commitment means the province is going to continue to fund the TAVIS unit to the tune of about $5 million annually after this year. However, Ford has not achieved his objective of being able to hire more officers for the unit as a result.
"Money talks and BS walks. I'm not going sit there to listen to some BS and some reports and yadda yadda," Ford told talk radio station AM640 on Monday morning ahead of the meeting.
"I'm going to go in there and ask for $5-10 million, and I want to be able to give that to Chief Blair and tell the chief, 'Go hire police officers and let's get the streets cleaned and let's start to get the gangs and guns off the street.'"
The goal of the meeting was to prevent violent gun incidents incidents, though the mayor and the premier appear far apart in their preferred approaches.
Ford has said he supports giving more resources to police and has disparaged youth outreach initiatives as "hug-a-thug" programs, while the premier has said a balanced approach is needed, with an eye to the long-term nature of the problem of gun violence.
Also at the meeting were Ontario Attorney General John Gerretsen, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services Madeleine Meilleur, and Minister of Children and Youth Services, Eric Hoskins.
In another development, Ford will meet with Prime Minister Stephen Harper in Toronto on Tuesday to discuss gun crime.
Four people have been killed in gun violence in Toronto since last Monday evening, when a shooting erupted at a block party on Danzig Street in the city's east end. Two people died in that shooting and 23 others were wounded.
By Thursday, two more people had died in separate gun-related killings in the city — one in a parking lot on the edge of a soccer field, the other in a schoolyard.