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Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau speaks with trauma care workers during a discussion on gun violence gun control on Sept. 30, 2019 in Toronto.Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Health-care professionals working on the front lines of gun violence in Toronto called on the federal government to implement stricter firearms laws, including a national handgun ban, at a campaign event with Liberal Leader Justin Trudeau.

None of the four main parties plans to meet the call.

Mr. Trudeau has said a re-elected Liberal government would ban and buy back up to 250,000 military-style assault rifles and let municipalities impose individual handgun bans. The Conservatives oppose bans on assault rifles and handguns, and say they would focus on the “violent criminals” rather than “law-abiding farmers, hunters and sport shooters.” The New Democrats promise to do more to stop gun-smuggling, and the Greens say they would further restrict handguns to shooting ranges in urban areas.

But health-care professionals at a Liberal-organized event in Toronto on Monday called for more action to stop a rise in gun violence. The number of gun homicides across Canada has climbed 60 per cent since 2014, and in 2018 hit 249.

Mr. Trudeau said he held the event to “dig into an issue that has a significant impact on communities." However, one doctor said Ottawa isn’t doing enough.

“I think what the federal government needs to do is show leadership and do a national ban on handguns," said Joel Lexchin, an emergency physician with the University Health Network in Toronto.

The Liberals have said they would work with the provinces and territories to allow municipal handgun bans. Dr. Lexchin said, “that’s the wrong approach,” because even if a province allows municipal handgun bans, rules might vary.

Mr. Trudeau replied that “there are lots of people who would like us to go further.”

Three other health-care professionals at the Liberal event told reporters they also support a federal handgun ban.

The Liberal plan would also suspend gun licences for people suspected of posing a danger to their families, toughen gun-storage laws and crack down on people who buy guns legally and divert them to illegal markets.

At a separate event on Monday, Toronto police Chief Mark Saunders said a handgun ban would have some benefits, but that most of the crime guns the force encounters come from the United States.

“The reduction [of the violence] will involve a multitude of agencies … to get it correct,” he said.

In Whitby, Ont., Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer announced a Tory government would make the disability tax credit more accessible to help Canadians with disabilities “manage their health needs.”

The tax credit is available to people with disabilities, or their dependants, to help cover costs from a severe, prolonged mental or physical disability.

The Conservatives promised to reduce the number of hours spent on life-sustaining therapy required to qualify for the tax credit from 14 hours a week to 10; the party said it would also expand the definition of life-sustaining therapy. The Tories say the measure could allow 35,000 more Canadians with disabilities to save an average of $2,100 a year.

According to the Parliamentary Budget Officer, the change would cost $177-million over four years.

NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh was in Vancouver on Monday for a child-care announcement. Green Party Leader Elizabeth May also campaigned there.

The latest numbers from Nanos Research show the race for first place remains close. The Conservatives had the support of 34 per cent of respondents, followed by the Liberals at 33 per cent. The NDP and Greens were both at 13 per cent, followed by the Bloc Québécois at 4 per cent and the People’s Party of Canada at 3 per cent.

The poll was sponsored by The Globe and Mail and CTV, with a total of 1,200 Canadians surveyed from Sept. 27 to 29. It has a margin of error of 2.8 percentage points, 19 times out of 20. Respondents were asked: “If a federal election were held today, could you please rank your top two current local voting preferences?” A report on the results, questions and methodology for this and all surveys can be found at

With reports from Molly Hayes and Patrick White

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