Ontario Increasing Community Programs to Prevent Youth Violence and Human Trafficking
July 27, 2021
New local programs supporting youth at risk of experiencing violence and victimization
OTTAWA – The Ontario government is launching 11 new community-based programs in Ottawa, Hamilton, London, Thunder Bay, Toronto and neighbouring Indigenous communities to prevent youth from becoming involved in gun violence, gang activity and victimization, including human trafficking. As part of Ontario’s Guns, Gangs and Violence Reduction Strategy these new intervention and prevention programs will help youth find meaningful alternatives to violence and achieve better outcomes.
“Our government is working with communities across the province to support youth, reduce crime and make Ontario safer,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “We know it’s critical to intervene early and provide youth with supports that address the root causes that make them susceptible to violence and victimization, including through human trafficking.”
The 11 new programs, delivered by Black and Indigenous-led organizations, will support youth and young adults aged 12 to 29. Examples include:
- Afro Canadian Caribbean Association in Hamilton will deliver a community-based program to prevent crime, violence and increase awareness and self-confidence through a “Rites of Passage” African-centred approach designed to help Black youth make empowering decisions that will lead to positive outcomes.
- Tungasuvvingat Inuit in Ottawa will provide an anti-human trafficking program, grounded in Inuit Qaujimajatuqangit, harm-reduction and peer-led approaches, that will support Inuit aged 12-29 with direct prevention, education, intervention and healing.
- Urban Rez Solutions Social Enterprise in Toronto will make social services more accessible to Black youth and provide employment readiness workshops, as well as a 36-week culturally relevant life skills and resiliency program, and one-on-one case management.
“Intervening early with children and youth at risk of being targeted for human trafficking is a critical part of our government’s strategy to combat this crime,” said Jane McKenna, Associate Minister of Children and Women’s Issues. “These new programs will help prevent human trafficking, keep more young people safe and help youth find positive opportunities.”
“Tungasuvvingat Inuit is pleased to see this level of commitment as we work to end youth violence and human trafficking,” said Amanda Kilabuk, Executive Director of Tungasuvvingat Inuit. “We have seen the benefits and impact our programming has had on urban Inuit youth and we will continue to advocate until we see an end to child sexual exploitation.”
This initiative supports Ontario’s Anti-Human Trafficking Strategy, Black Youth Action Plan and Pathways to Safety: Ontario’s Strategy in Response to the Final Report of the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls and is another step the government is taking to respond to the needs of communities.
“Supporting youth and families is a critical part of our government’s Anti-Human Trafficking and Guns, Gangs and Violence Strategies to reduce violence and confront human trafficking crimes in Ontario communities,” said Attorney General Doug Downey. “We are determined to dismantle the criminal networks that prey on young and vulnerable people in our neighborhoods, and these encouraging new programs will help communities fight back against gun, drug, and human trafficking which fuels gang operations and the continued recruitment of at-risk youth and young adults.”
“These new programs further underline our government’s commitment to address the root causes and risk factors of violence as well as prevent criminal activity, including human trafficking, through our Guns, Gangs and Violence Reduction Strategy,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “These valuable community supports will help prevent at-risk youth from becoming involved in gun and gang violence or falling prey to human trafficking.”
- Since 2013, approximately 60 per cent of firearm-related cases at the Ontario Court of Justice involved accused persons who were under the age of 29 at the time of the offence.
- In 2019, 65 per cent of known human trafficking victims identified by police were under the age of 25 and 22 per cent were under 18.
- In 2016, 13 per cent of victims of violent crime in Ontario were children and youth. In the same year, children and youth represented eight per cent of all victims of homicide and other offences causing death.
- The federal government has provided Ontario with $3.7 million over two years for the Youth Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention Program.
- The Youth Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention Program is part of Ontario’s broader Guns, Gangs and Violence Reduction Strategy in which both the provincial and federal governments have invested a combined total of approximately $112 million since established in 2018.
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