Supporting communities and families is a key pillar of the Next Phase of Canada’s Economic Action Plan.
Youth gangs are an increasing concern across the country. Between 2000 and 2008, the number of homicides attributed to gangs doubled, from one in eight to one in four.
As part of the Government’s National Crime Prevention Strategy, the Youth Gang Prevention Fund helps reduce youth gang activity by investing in community prevention programs. These programs focus on youth who are involved in gangs, or who are at greatest risk of joining. Public Safety Canada’s National Crime Prevention Centre (NCPC) manages the Fund.
The Fund was created in January 2007, and has supported 19 youth crime prevention programs and initiatives across Canada to date. These projects have reached over 1,400 at-risk youth between the ages of 12 and 24, and have shown early success in reducing risk factors related to criminality such as substance abuse, violent behaviour and negative and anti-social attitudes. Participants have also shown improved social skills and a significant increased attachment to teachers and other positive role models, as well as employers and work colleagues. With the renewed support, the Government will continue to build on the success of the Fund and address real community issues and concerns.
In May 2010, to further develop the Fund’s preventative and intervention measures, the Government consulted with provincial and territorial officials, as well as the chiefs of police from communities throughout the country.
The Government is providing $37.5 million over five years and $7.5 million thereafter in ongoing annual support to renew the Fund, supporting grass roots-level programs. Work will continue with various partners and stakeholders – the provinces and territories, community groups, police and service providers involved in local projects – to:
- Invest in initiatives in communities where gangs exist, by focusing on youth who are either members of gangs or at-risk of joining gangs, to help them avoid falling into a life of crime;
- Give young people alternatives to joining gangs and help them develop constructive social skills and attitudes;
- Support proven community-based interventions and programs that address risk factors and root causes, to ensure the continued effectiveness of intervention and other prevention responses; and
- Address current and emerging youth gang trends and issues, including supporting the development of initiatives in rural and remote communities, including Aboriginal communities.