FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
OTTAWA - Horizon Ottawa is calling today’s decision by the Ottawa Police Services Board (OPSB) to make the budget increase 2% instead of 3% a half measure that doesn’t go far enough to further real community safety.
Close to 70 delegates spoke out yesterday in both oral and written delegations to call for the OPSB to commit to a full freeze of the budget and to re-allocate money into services that need it. The Ottawa Police called for an additional $14 million in the 2022 budget, which would have brought their total budget to over $350 million, while 95 social service agencies in Ottawa would have to split $27 million.
“We are disappointed and frustrated by the decision as it highlights the lack of courage by the OPSB.” Said Sam Hersh, a Board member of Horizon Ottawa. “However, it shows that when community members come together and speak out, it has an effect on those in power - without us speaking out even this change, albeit a weak measure, would have never happened”
The Ottawa Police Budget has grown by over 300% over the past two decades, while social services continue to be underfunded. An increase in police funding and presence has not translated into a safer city. Many have said that money would be better geared towards mental health response teams and other social services who could better address the concerns of crisis calls and other social issues.
Councillors Catherine McKenney and Shawn Menard have also been strongly advocating for a reallocation of additional police funds towards Ottawa Public Health but nothing has materialized yet due to the centralization of power at City Hall.
“We will keep pushing and work to ensure that we elect councillors in 2022 who are committed to true community safety that involves investing in real services, not police.”
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