Feds announce $54mn plan to tackle guns and gangs in Ontario

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Ontario is set to receive $54 million over the next three years from the federal government to combat illegal gun and gang activity, with the funds earmarked for specialized prosecutors, policing projects and intelligence-gathering efforts in jails.

Federal Crime Reduction Minister Bill Blair, who made the announcement Monday, said the funding is aimed at preventing further violence.

“Unfortunately, we have recently seen across the country, and in particular in the Greater Toronto Area, an increase of violent gun crime and gang activity,” he said at Peel Regional Police headquarters in Mississauga, Ont.

“It is affecting our communities and it is affecting how Canadians live their lives.”

The province said it will use the cash to expand a dedicated team of firearms bail prosecutors in Peel Region, west of Toronto, and to establish a guns and gangs fund for policing projects in the Greater Toronto Area and the Greater Golden Horseshoe region, which stretches from the Niagara Region to the Durham Region.

It will also use the funds to create a guns and gangs team in Eastern Ontario that will be made up of four assistant Crown attorneys working with Ottawa police.

Other areas the money will help is in the increase in intelligence-gathering efforts in jails and to support victims of human trafficking, said Ontario Attorney General Doug Downey.

“It will broaden the benefits available to these survivors ensuring their unique and most urgent needs are met,” Downey said of the funds that will be used to help human-trafficking victims.

The announcement also comes as Toronto grapples with a recent increase in gun violence. According to Toronto Police statistics, there have been 285 shootings this year so far with 430 victims, which includes those killed and injured. That compares with 272 shootings at the same time last year, with 364 victims.

But there is one thing the government can do to reduce gun violence and that is strong laws that deter criminals from not just offending but re-offending. There is a feeling that weak laws fail to deter criminals who go out of their way to commit brazen crimes that endanger the lives of innocent people. -CINEWS

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