Thanks to Mitzie Hunter for introducing anti-gun violence bill


By Louis March

Founder of the Zero Gun Violence Movement.

Louis March

Thanks to Mitzie Hunter, MPP for Scarborough-Guildwood, for introducing Bill-60 in Parliament last week, titled The Safe and Healthy Communities Act to address the impacts of gun violence in communities across the province.

Zero Gun Violence Movement has been advocating with key stakeholders and partners for years, to get different government levels to acknowledge that gun violence is a public health issue and social determinant of people’s health and wellness.

The City of Toronto and Public Health has already acknowledged this fact while the Province has practiced willful blindness. A province who’s Premier has publicly declared that he is from the old school and that he believes in putting more boots on the ground, to address the gun violence crisis.

The same Premier who decided that cutting $25 million from after-school youth programs and handing that money to the police would solve the gun violence crisis in the City. Interestingly, the same police who had publicly declared that they could not arrest the gun violence crisis by itself, and needed community partnerships.

The Premier has to graduate from his old school and get in touch with the gun violence realities of today. Toronto has averaged over one shooting per day this year and nearly one gun homicide every week. This is unacceptable.

Bill-60, which passed first reading last week, would allow the Province to acknowledge gun violence as a public health issue. It will also allow counseling services for survivors of gun violence to be covered by OHIP and allow Boards of Health to develop programs and services reducing gun violence.

This is a comprehensive bill that includes proactive efforts to address the social and economic conditions, considered to be the seeds and roots of gun violence. It also addresses the needs of victims impacted by gun violence. The current services and supports usually come attached with limits and expiry dates. In many cases, the financial burden is carried by the victims. This is unacceptable.

Thanks again to Mitzie Hunter for stepping up – organizing community meetings and roundtables to accurately assess the true impacts of gun violence on victims, families and communities. We now need to see the Provincial government quickly moving on Bill 60 and getting it passed.

We must do a better job at addressing the seed and root causes of gun violence beyond the usual police first approach. We must also do a better job at providing services and supports to victims of gun violence.  Bill-60 gives us a fighting chance.