Two lives have been lost, and many more are seriously injured, after a gunman shot into crowds of people enjoying a summer evening on Toronto’s Danforth Ave. This shocking event naturally brings sorrow and grieving to the entire city. The ripple effects of this kind of horror can be deep and lasting – for those directly effected and those part of the surrounding community.

CUPE Ontario sends our deep gratitude to our paramedics and all first responders who attended the scene Sunday night. They were there in minutes, making sure that all the victims received the emergency care they needed. Lives were saved thanks to their work.

We also deeply appreciate and recognize the skills of the hospital workers who are providing ongoing care and support to all those injured. We thank them along with all the community social services workers who are, and will be, providing support to help with the individual and collective healing that is so clearly needed.

The value these public service workers provide to our lives and our communities is immeasurable, and we are enormously proud that many of these heroes are members of our union.

Sunday’s tragedy was not the first shooting in Toronto this summer, but it is by far the largest. Families in communities all across the city have faced traumatic losses over the past few months. And some communities have known this type of tragedy for far too long. We can’t let this continue. We need collective solutions to the city’s gun violence. More police on our streets cannot be proposed as the only solution. We must address the root causes of the violence, in particular the need for more community based mental health supports.

Toronto is dealing with a serious lack of funding for critical community services. We know that programs created while David Miller was mayor, that worked to reduce gun violence, were cut by both the Ford and Tory administrations. These cuts were a tragic mistake that the people of Toronto are now paying the collective price for years later.

While there are no easy solutions, we cannot be overcome by fear. We cannot let fear be used to divide us from each other and destroy our inclusive way of life.

All levels of government must come together to ensure funding is provided to truly address the root causes that lead to gun violence. That includes stronger gun control measures. We need real political leadership that deals immediately with the realities communities are facing across our city.

This is a tragedy that should never have happened. We all need to take care of each other. Together we must demand more from our governments and ensure we move forward together, united in the diverse city we love.