Ontario supporting the local fight against gun and gang violence
New action to boost local efforts to stop gun violence and gang activity across Ontario
March 26, 2019
Ministry of the Attorney General
Ontario’s Government is putting people first and taking strong action in its plan to fight gun violence and dismantle gangs by boosting local crime prevention, enforcement and prosecution across the province.
“We have listened to communities fighting to curb gun crime and dismantle gangs across Ontario, and new help is on the way,” said Attorney General Caroline Mulroney. “Our government is standing up for law-abiding citizens, local police and prosecutors to keep communities safe and protect young people from gang activity.”
As part of the plan, the province will launch a Gun and Gang Support Unit that will support major gun and gang investigations and prosecutions, as well as improve province-wide intelligence gathering, integration and coordination. To combat gangs across the province, the unit will assist local police services and prosecutors to investigate complex cases across jurisdictions.
To help police services work together on major investigations that target the drug, gun and human trafficking activities that fund criminal gangs, Ontario is establishing a dedicated Gun and Gang Specialized Investigations Fund to support joint forces operations.
“Supporting the creation of a Gun and Gang Support Unit is one more way our government is working to protect families from criminal violence and support victims of crime,” said Sylvia Jones, Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services. “This new highly-specialized unit will provide local police and prosecutors with the expertise and support they need to crack down on gang activity.”
At the same time, the government will work with communities to establish justice centres in various locations across the province to move justice out of the traditional courtroom and into a community setting. These centres will co-locate justice facilities with prevention and intervention supports to hold individuals accountable while connecting them with services that address the root causes of crime and break the cycle of offending.
In particular, these centres can include programs that disrupt gang recruitment and help to lead youth and young people away from a path that could lead to more serious crime. This groundbreaking approach has been effective in several jurisdictions across North America in reducing crime rates, breaking the cycle of offending, supporting frontline officers and building healthier and safer communities.
Preventative programs are critical to providing meaningful alternatives to participating in criminal activity for communities and youth at high-risk of involvement in gangs and gun violence and victimization. Ontario will:
- Establish the Youth Violence Prevention and Resilience Program to foster and strengthen social connections that reduce risk factors associated with gun and gang violence and victimization.
- Work with select school boards across the province through the Keeping Students in School Pilot Project to address the over-representation of some groups in suspension and expulsions – including students from families living in poverty, students with disabilities, Indigenous, Black and other ethno-racial groups of students.
- Develop the Indigenous Youth Prevention and Intervention Program fund to support Indigenous communities and First Nations police services in delivering help to prevent Indigenous youth from being recruited by local gangs,
- Support the development of the Gang Intervention and Exit Program for Indigenous women to prevent exploitation, recruitment and further victimization of Indigenous women and girls.
“When we help protect at-risk young people, we create safer and stronger communities,” said Mulroney. “The new justice centres will bring communities, police, and justice partners, together with health and social services, under one roof, with the shared goal of restoring safety to communities experiencing the threat of gun violence and gang activity.”
- The federal government has provided Ontario with $11.37 million over two years for initiatives that aim to reduce gun crime and criminal gang activities.
- In 2018, the province invested $25 million over four years in new funding to the Toronto Police Service to provide them with additional digital, investigative and analytical resources necessary for fighting gun and gang violence and support Intensive Bail Firearms Teams in Toronto courthouses.
- Justice centres will be developed in Kenora, London and Toronto’s downtown East and Northwest neighbourhoods.
- Youth and young adults aged 16-29 are both most likely to commit criminal offences and most likely to become victims of crime.
“We want youth at risk of coming into conflict with the law to build resiliency and gain important skills that will help them throughout their life. We want to work with our partners to provide programs that strengthen communities, create safe neighbourhoods and set up all of Ontario’s youth for success.”
Minister of Children, Community and Social Services
“The Ministry of Education will work together with school boards and other ministries to address barriers in the education system when it comes to student success and well-being in both their classrooms and communities. Students need to know there are alternatives and opportunities to have a successful future and we’re going to work with them to realize their potential.”
Minister of Education