The city will disperse funds to initiatives that prevent crime
Toronto will receive up to $12.3 million from the federal government’s Building Safer Communities Fund (BSCF) to address gun violence. The city will distribute funds to local organizations that tackle the root causes of gun crime and support community-led projects to combat violence among children, youth, and young adults involved in or at risk of joining gangs.
Toronto Mayor John Tory says addressing community safety has been his top priority, and the support from the federal government will help continue the ongoing work to keep the city safe and make investments in addressing the roots of gun violence.
The $250 million BSCF fund was first announced in March 2022 and is part of the federal government’s plan to prevent gun violence, get guns off the streets of Canada and support initiatives that empower communities by providing more resources to help young people make good choices.
The amount of BSCF support for a community is based on crime severity, including homicide by firearm, incidents of gun offences, organized/street gang-involved crime and population density.
“Stopping gang violence starts with ensuring our most vulnerable and at-risk youth have the tools they need to succeed and stay away from a life of crime,” says Gary Anandasangaree, Parliamentary Secretary to the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada and Member of Parliament for Scarborough–Rouge Park. “Through the Building Safer Communities Fund, we are pleased to invest in important community-based initiatives to help stop the cycle of gun and gang violence and build a safer Toronto.”
Toronto is the first of many communities to receive funding under the BSCF. For example, the federal government is working with identified municipalities and Indigenous communities to put contribution agreements in place as quickly as possible.
The Minister of Public Safety, Marco Mendicino, said keeping Canadians safe from gun violence is his foremost priority and that the BSCF addresses the root causes of crime by creating safe spaces, empowering young people, and helping them make good choices that will set them up for success in life.
The BSCF is critical to the federal government’s broader plan to keep Canadians safe. It includes significant investments at the borders to stop gun smuggling, a proposed national freeze on handguns, “red flag” laws allowing a citizen to flag an individual with guns whom they suspect is a danger to themselves or others, the banning of more than 1,500 models of assault-style firearms, and a buyback program.
“Stopping gun crime before it starts is a key pillar of our plan to address gun violence, along with action at our borders, a ban on assault-style weapons, and the recently introduced Bill C-21 – Canada’s most significant action on gun violence in a generation,” Mendicino says. Bill C-21 freezes the sale, purchase or transfer of handguns for most individuals in Canada.
The BSCF also complements other federal programs that help young people avoid gangs, including the Initiative To Take Action Against Gun and Gang Violence. The $358.8 million investment brings together federal, provincial and territorial supports to tackle the increase in gun-related violence and gang activity in Canada and the Youth Gang Prevention Fund.
Under the Gun and Gang Violence Action Fund, Ontario was allocated over $65.5 million to support initiatives under Ontario’s Guns, Gangs and Violence Reduction Strategy (GGVRS), including initiatives within the city of Toronto.
The GGVRS is a coordinated strategy that will deliver province-wide initiatives across the community safety continuum of prevention, intervention, enforcement, justice and rehabilitation.