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Canada 2017 Crime & Safety Report: Toronto

Western Hemisphere > Canada; Western Hemisphere > Canada > Toronto

Overall Crime and Safety Situation

U.S. Consulate General Toronto does not assume responsibility for the professional ability or integrity of the persons or firms appearing in this report. The ACS Unit cannot recommend a particular individual or location and assumes no responsibility for the quality of service provided.

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED TORONTO AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR CRIME DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Please review OSAC’s Canada-specific webpage for proprietary analytic reports, Consular Messages, and contact information.

Crime Threats

Crimes of opportunity and all other categories of crime do occur. According to the Canadian government, gun-related homicides in Canada reached an all-time high of 410 in 2016. During the same period, gun violence in Toronto claimed 40 lives (approximately 5% of Chicago, a similarly sized U.S. city). Assaults against police officers, thefts from vehicles, and sexual assaults have increased slightly, but breaking-and-entering incidents decreased. The Toronto Police Services (TPS) and Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) have noted an increase in the use of guns in the commission of crimes (53% over 2015). If you are confronted, give-up your valuables; no personal possession is worth your life.

There is no evidence that Americans are being targeted directly for any criminal activity in Toronto.

While the downtown area is an enjoyable area of boutiques and restaurants during the day and early evening, drug dealing and prostitution activity has been reported with occasional incidents of violence outside the bars as they close.

Aggressive pan-handling has also been identified in the vicinity of the Consulate and the downtown area. Be wary of strangers who approach you and offer to be your guide or sell you something at bargain prices.

Vehicle thefts are common, even from locked garages. Vehicle break-ins are common, with GPS units, electronics, bags, identification, and loose change alluring.

Cybersecurity Issues

E-mail scams (grandparent scams) for money, using U.S. military information and U.S. federal law enforcement agencies, have been identified and reported to the U.S. Consulate for verification. Extensive information about various international financial scams is available.

Travelers to Toronto should practice smart Internet usage and guard all financial transactions. Ensure credit cards are returned to you after each transaction.  

Transportation-Safety Situation

Road Safety and Road Conditions

Driving conditions are very similar to the U.S., but severe winter weather conditions may make traveling by road dangerous. Due to harsh winters with snow and ice, in addition to road treatments, public roads are often in a state of constant repair/maintenance. Roadside emergency kits are highly suggested, especially in inclement weather. For more information on self-driving, please review OSAC’s Report “Driving Overseas: Best Practices.”

Road safety and road conditions are posted in kilometers per hour, and some signs (particularly in Quebec) may only be in French. Drivers should be cautious of deer, elk, and moose while driving at night in rural areas.

The OPP and the TPS routinely set up vehicle checkpoints on main roads/highways to interdict impaired drivers. Drivers must use hands-free cell phones while driving. The OPP and TPS routinely station plain-clothes officers to observe and ticket vehicle operators using electronic devices without hands-free attachments.

Public Transportation Conditions

Public transportation in the greater Toronto area is considered safe. It is similar to most public transportation systems found in the U.S. Travelers may find public transportation systems are often cleaner and easier to use. Toronto is very proud of its multi-faceted public transportation system (bus, subway, street-car). While it is considered safe, thefts and assaults can and do take place. Travelers should protect purses and bags while in crowds. 

Aviation/Airport Conditions

Aviation/airport conditions are very similar to the U.S., but severe winter weather conditions may make traveling by air frustrating. Harsh winter weather often causes flight delays, cancellations and often re-routed flights. Travelers should remain updated on current weather conditions and the status of their individual flights. Travelers should be prepared for itinerary changes and delays.

Terrorism Threat

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED TORONTO AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR TERRORIST ACTIVITY DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Local, Regional, and International Terrorism Threats/Concerns

According to Canada’s National Terrorism Threat Level System, Canada has been rated a MEDIUM threat for terrorism violence, meaning a violent act could occur. 16 individuals were charged with terrorism-related offences in 2016, the highest number in a single year in Canadian history.

As the number of Canadian citizens leaving to join terrorist causes has increased in 2016, terrorism remains a threat as some of those individuals return to Canada. 20% of foreign terrorist fighters are female.

While there are no known specific terrorist threats directed against U.S. government personnel or civilians in Toronto, there have been threats and acts of domestic terrorism.

  • On August 10, 2016 in Strathoy, Ontario, a man was shot by police after detonation of an explosive in a taxi. The confrontation followed a tip from FBI to Canadian authorities that the suspect had made a martyrdom video.


Anti-American/Anti-Western Sentiment

The U.S. Consulate General was the focus of several peaceful demonstrations in 2016; very few of these reached even 50 participants. Demonstrators protested U.S. foreign policy and the lack of U.S. support/aid to other countries.

Political, Economic, Religious, and Ethnic Violence

THE U.S. DEPARTMENT OF STATE HAS ASSESSED TORONTO AS BEING A LOW-THREAT LOCATION FOR POLITICAL VIOLENCE DIRECTED AT OR AFFECTING OFFICIAL U.S. GOVERNMENT INTERESTS.

Civil Unrest

Visitors to Toronto are advised to avoid public demonstrations and other civil disturbances.

Post-specific Concerns

Environmental Hazards

Winters can be extremely cold.

Earthquakes are rare in the Toronto area.

Critical Infrastructure

The government HAZMAT and Emergency Response Unit is fully capable of responding and providing assistance for all types of industrial and transportation accidents. There have been several railroad-related accidents countrywide since 2013. As a result, federal rail laws have changed, and rail cars transporting fuel are now required to be double hulled.

Economic Concerns

According to the RCMP, “The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) and other Canadian law enforcement agencies are committed to undertaking coordinated action to counter the threats posed by intellectual property crime.”

Privacy Concerns

There is a relatively low risk of privacy concerns in Canada. The Privacy Commissioner handles several complaints each year about violations of privacy rights. According to the Office of the Privacy Commissioner of Canada, “Canada has two federal privacy laws, the Privacy Act and the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act. The Privacy Act took effect on July 1, 1983. This Act imposes obligations on some 250 federal government departments and agencies to respect privacy rights by limiting the collection, use and disclosure of personal information. The Privacy Act gives individuals the right to access and request correction of personal information about themselves held by these federal government organizations. Individuals are also protected by the Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Ace (PIPEDA) that sets out ground rules for how private sector organizations may collect, use or disclose personal information in the course of commercial activities. The law gives individuals the right to access and request correction of the personal information these organizations maybe have collected about them.”

Personal Identity Concerns

Toronto is considered among the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. More residents of Toronto are foreign-born than natural born Canadians. Toronto, and Canada itself, is a very open and welcoming community. Diversity is celebrated.

Drug-related Crimes

Cannabis and methamphetamine use occurs in parks in metro Toronto. TPS and OPP continue to pursue and arrest drug operations. Organized crime is present and centered around drug trafficking and outlaw motorcycle gangs.

Kidnapping Threat

International parental child abductions between Canada and the U.S. do occur. Procedures for coordinating with courts, establishing jurisdiction, other issues associated with handling these cases are prescribed under the Civil Aspects of International Child Abduction (the “Hague Convention”).

In 2012, the RCMP created a new unit: The National Centre for Missing Persons and Unidentified Remains. The new unit will maintain a national database for finding missing people and identifying human remains that will link investigators from across the country when their cases match. The database will provide support to police, coroners, and medical examiners and let them compare their findings to cases from across the country. 

Police Response

The Toronto Police Services (TPS) are the local law enforcement and the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is the state police. Both police services are extremely proactive and responsive in addressing criminal activity surrounding the U.S. Consulate General. TPS is the police of jurisdiction in the city of Toronto.

How to Handle Incidents of Police Detention or Harassment

There are no guarantees that law enforcement authorities would notify the U.S. Embassy or U.S. Consulates when crimes (kidnappings) are reported. Police detention of a U.S. citizen can be directed toward American Citizen Services (ACS) during normal working hours (tel: 416-595-6506). All issues involving U.S. diplomats or American citizens detained after hours should call tel: 416-595-1700). The Regional Security Office (RSO) will handle any issues of police harassment.

Crime Victim Assistance

Dial 911. The TPS can provide assistance if you are the victim of a crime.

Police/Security Agencies

The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) is the largest deployed police force in Ontario and the second largest in Canada. The service is responsible for providing policing services throughout the province in areas lacking police forces. It also offers specialized support to smaller municipal forces, investigates province-wide and cross-jurisdictional crimes, patrols provincial highways, and is responsible for many of the waterways in the province.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) is the national police service and an agency of the Ministry of Public Safety Canada. The RCMP is unique since it is a national, federal, provincial, and municipal policing body. The RCMP provide federal policing service to all Canadians and policing services under contract to the three territories, eight provinces (except Ontario and Quebec), more than 190 municipalities, 184 Aboriginal communities, and three international airports.

Medical Emergencies

Contact Information for Available Medical Services

Toronto General Hospital (200 Elizabeth St. Toronto, ON M5G 2C4) is a full-service hospital including trauma care and air-lift unit. The hospital is located near the downtown area and is easily accessible.

Main Line: 416 340 4800

Administrative Offices/General Inquiries: 416 340 3111

Emergency: 416 340 3946

Patient Inquiries: 416 340 3131

Patient Relations - Complaints/Compliments: 416 340 4907

Public Affairs: 416 340 3895

Lost Articles/Security: 416 340 4111

Available Air Ambulance Services

Toronto General Hospital

Insurance Guidance

Ontario provides insurance for its tax paying citizens. Visitors to Ontario, and Toronto, can receive access to medical practitioners. Acceptance of insurance is on a case-by-case basis. Depending upon the location, the traveler may have to pay for services up front and seek reimbursement from their individual insurance provider in the U.S. Emergency cases will not be denied medical services.

Country-specific Vaccination and Health Guidance

The CDC offers additional information on vaccines and health guidance for Canada.

OSAC Country Council Information

The Toronto Country Council currently meets quarterly during the year and has approximately 10 members. Please contact OSAC’s Western Hemisphere team with any questions or to join.  

U.S. Consulate Location and Contact Information

Consulate Address and Hours of Operation

360 University Ave, Toronto, Ontario M5G 1S4

Hours of Operation: Mon-Fri 0800-1700 by appointment only.

Consulate Contact Numbers

Embassy/Consulate Operator: 416-595-1700

Emergency American Citizen Services: 416-595-1700

Regional Security Office (RSO): 416-595-1700 (ext. 257)

Website: http://toronto.usconsulate.gov/

Nearby Posts

Embassy Ottawa: http://canada.usembassy.gov/

Consulate Calgary: http://calgary.usconsulate.gov/

Consulate Halifax: http://halifax.usconsulate.gov/

Consulate Montreal: http://montreal.usconsulate.gov/

Consulate Quebec: http://quebec.usconsulate.gov/

Consulate Vancouver: http://vancouver.usconsulate.gov/

Consulate Winnipeg: http://winnipeg.usconsulate.gov/

Additional Resources

Canada Country Information Sheet