By Georgia Diamantopoulous | International | April 20, 2023
Cover Illustration: Toronto, ON, Canada. Juan Rojas / Unsplash
Metro International reporter Georgia Diamantopoulous investigates the recent violent assaults on commuters in Toronto, Canada.
In just one week, there have been seven reported incidents of violence on Toronto’s Transit Commission (TTC) transport system, ranging from a woman being stabbed and seriously injured onboard a streetcar, to incidents of sexual assault at various metro stations. According to the CEO of the TTC, “Violent incidents against passengers on the TTC increased by 46% compared to the previous year.” The motives behind these violent assaults have yet to be uncovered, which has escalated fear among commuters making use of public transportation regularly.
A student from the University of Toronto shared her feelings about this situation. When asked about how the criminal activity on Toronto’s TTC has affected her, she stated that “public transport is something I use in my daily life, whether it is to get to campus or to go to the gym. And these past few weeks have scared me. I mean, yesterday a girl around my age was sexually assaulted after leaving the bus to walk home, and people are even getting pushed onto the subway tracks. I really hope something is done to handle this situation.”
Another topic touched upon was possible solutions proposed by the TTC and the government, to which she responded, “The mayor recently made a statement addressing this issue, but these attacks are still happening, so I’m not sure if any changes have been made.” Even though the Mayor, John Tory, has publicly spoken about these attacks, he still was unable to pinpoint a reason behind them. The student’s concern about the lack of action taken to tackle this issue is fully justified by the mayor’s inability to provide safety to the community. Nonetheless, he has proposed some solutions such as suggesting a national summit to address a mental health crisis– a factor he believes is contributing to random acts of violence in the city.
While the Toronto police recently announced they will increase surveillance on the TTC by dispatching more officers to different stations, the mayor also came forward with a plan to target what he thinks is the root of the issue. He has made promises to make changes to the city’s budget plans by tackling the unemployment and homelessness problem in Toronto, specifically stating that he will, “subsidize the removal of homeless people from buses and streetcars.” There has been an increase in the homelessness issue in Toronto since after the COVID pandemic due to the closing of shelters and layoffs which has resulted in an increased amount of deaths, with an average of 3.5 deaths per week of homeless people in 2022. The fact that more people are now living on the streets, and more homeless people are at risk of death, can be a contributing factor behind this increase in violence.
The reason behind these attacks are unknown, but tackling the issue regarding homelessness and mental health in Toronto is the first step to creating a safer environment. More money could be allocated to community projects, or subsidized housing for lower-income people as part of a plan to decrease unemployment and homelessness. Nevertheless, these attacks have had a significant impact on the people and students in Toronto, making them feel more at danger using transportation than ever before.
The reason behind these attacks are unknown, but tackling the issue regarding homelessness and mental health in Toronto is the first step to creating a safer environment.
Georgia Diamantopoulous is a university student in Amsterdam. The views expressed here are not necessarily those of The Amsterdammer.