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Defund the police and invest in community resources

by victoriavilla, 30 June, 2020

I'm only able to comment on my own experiences with community resource underfunding, but I'm unfortunate enough to have a few.

When I was younger, I was struggling with an eating disorder. I needed help badly, however there were so few spots in the mental health department at CHEO that this process took months, and I got lucky. While waiting months for a consultation, and then several more until spots opened, my condition worsened. I was only able to get in so fast (by fast, I mean 5 months wait time) because I had previously been inpatient for mental health issues to the ER, and I'm privileged enough to afford therapists who actively contacted CHEO and advocated for me.

This isn't my only story of a lack of community funds however. While in CHEO's outpatient program, I met many other youth with similar problems as me. However, they took their emotions out in different ways. I met kids who would wind up drunk on the streets to forget their worries, engage in petty crime, and even some who had previously been in juvenile hall. All of these children weren't "bad kids" in the slightest. The last thing they wanted to do was cause harm to anyone, but because they couldn't get the help they needed, their actions escalated in dangerous ways.

The overfunding of the Ottawa Police does explicitly more harm than good. These kids in dire mental health crises that could have been easily avoided were now a problem for the police. The lack of community and public health funding actively costs the city more money and time. Had the underlying mental health issues in these youth been previously accessed and resolved, they would not have acted out in illegal ways. But, there wasn't enough room and money for them at the one place we're told is for every child: CHEO.

Crime is diminished by investing into community resources. Defund the police and invest in our communities. I don't want to see more of my friends and peers in harms way simply because there wasn't enough money in the budget for them.

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