The adoption of the City of Montreal’s 2023 budget was briefly disrupted on Thursday by about twenty demonstrators denouncing the increase in funding granted to the police.
The participants were members of the Coalition to Defund the Police. One of them, Professor Ted Rutland of Concordia University, was able to ask a question about it at the opening of the city council meeting, deploring the fact that Montreal has increased the budget of his service. more police than any other major Canadian city.
In the City’s 2023 budget, police funding is up $63 million, or just over 8%, to $787.1 million. It is the largest municipal expense.
The person in charge of public security on the executive committee, Alain Vaillancourt, replied that the sums devoted to prevention had also been increased, in particular for activities targeting young people, and that a good part of the additional budget devoted to the police came from the government of Quebec, with the aim of combating armed violence, which has been on the rise in recent years.
He was then interrupted by the activists shouting slogans to show their opposition, who were quickly escorted out of the council chamber by security guards and by police called to the scene.
The adopted budget as presented
“We wanted to show that the money wasted on the police could be used for other priorities such as social housing, homelessness, after-school activities or groups that work on harm reduction,” explained Ted. Rutland after the protest, adding that several studies show that community interventions are much more effective in reducing violence than police repression.
The municipal budget was nevertheless adopted as presented by the Plante-Olivier administration: it provides for spending of 6.76 billion, up 300 million, as well as average tax increases of 4.1% for the residential sector. and 2.9% for non-residential properties.
Opposition councilors voted against the budget. They tried to pass amendments to reduce the tax increase, reducing municipal spending by 35.5 million. Ensemble Montréal has also proposed devoting $3 million more to the fight against homelessness and $1 million more to the Service de police de la Ville de Montréal (SPVM) to improve the employment conditions of recruits, in order to attract more of candidates.
However, these amendments were rejected by the majority of councilors who are members of Projet Montréal.
The opposition also denounced the fact that the administration had not acted to allow the postponement of the tax increase for the elderly, whose income is not indexed with inflation, as promised during the last election campaign.
The president of the executive committee, Dominique Ollivier, assured that the administration intended to keep its promise, but that it must first obtain a legislative amendment from Quebec.