Gun Violence is a Public Health Crisis – Its time for the provincial government to step up

  • Provincial News

TORONTO, ON –  As a follow up to Toronto Public Health’s recent call to declare gun violence a public health issue and for the federal government to ban handgun sales, Mitzie Hunter, MPP for Scarborough-Guildwood is calling on all members of the provincial government to pass her Private Member’s Bill (PMB) to address gun violence, Bill 129: The Safe and Healthy Communities Act (Addressing Gun Violence), 2019.  If passed, the Bill would:

  1. Declare gun violence as a public health issue;
  2. Allow for counselling services for survivors of gun violence to be covered by OHIP; and, 
  3. Allow Boards of Health to develop programs and services for reducing gun violence

One of the key recommendations from the Medical Officer of Health’s recent report: Community Violence in Toronto – A Public Health Approach, called on the provincial government to adopt Bill 129 saying that it “will increase access to hospital-based violence interventions and affordable trauma-informed mental health supports to individuals exposed to violence.”

“It is time that we put the safety of our communities and neighbourhoods above politics and I have been pushing for real legislative change on this issue for some time,” said MPP Hunter.  “The Medical Officer of Health’s recommendation calling on Premier Ford and his government to adopt my bill underscores the vital need for this legislation.  Every level of government has a role to play in addressing this issue.”

The sharp increase in gun violence in several communities is a warning sign of the deeper, underlying causes and long-term impact that are going unaddressed and it adds a sense of urgency for governments at all levels to do more.   

“As a parent that has been directly impacted by gun violence, I know the trauma that lingers long after the media cameras and reporters are gone,” said Sureya Ibrahim, Founder of Regent Park Mothers for Peace. “It tears apart families and communities.”

 “We know that the proliferation of guns is making us all less safe,” said Neil Price, Community Researcher. “We will continue to advocate to ensure that we are heard by the public and those with the power to make a difference. We call on the provincial government to adopt this bill.”

 “We can’t afford to lose the momentum we are building around this issue,” said Dr. Najma Ahmed, founder of Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns.  “We have to keep pushing this issue onto the agenda of decision-makers and calling on the provincial government to adopt this bill is the next step.”

MPP Hunter has long been an advocate for community safety and well-being. Last year, she introduced a PMB calling on the provincial government to allow municipalities to ban the sale of ammunition within their boundaries.  In addition to calling on the provincial government to pass Bill 129, she is also calling on the federal government to ban hand gun and ammunition sales but to give municipalities the power to opt out. “Gun violence is disrupting families and sending shockwaves through community after community,” said MPP Hunter.  “We need to do more to break this cycle of violence once and for all. Ontario should emerge as a leader in community safety and well-being.”