Toronto snitch lines lighting up with COVID-19 complaints


Views from the 6nitch?

Torontonians seem pretty comfortable making COVID-19 non-compliance complaints to the city, data obtained by the Toronto Sun suggests.

The city received 3,422 COVID-related complaints between April 17 and April 27 — 65%, or 2,225, of which were made via the city’s new online reporting portal. The remaining 35% were fielded over the phone via 311.

The trend to report anonymously online is common across all four call categories — non-compliance with physical distancing, non-essential workplace open, removal of park barriers, and non-essential construction.

Physical distancing is the most popular complaint, with 802 reports filed during that time period.

Initial reaction to the online tattle-form was negative upon its launch on April 17.

Michael Bryant, president of the Canadian Civil Liberties Association, told the Toronto Sun’s Jenny Yuen April 23 that snitch lines are ‘bad government policy,’ and tend to be used for score-settling or petty disputes instead of genuine offence reporting.

“It’s an outlet for rage and anxiety that ends up pressuring police and bylaw officers to over-ticket instead of educating the public and warning people,” he said.

“The end result is our response is fear-based instead of science-based, changing their behaviours based on health expertise.”