The federal government is renewing a multi-million-dollar program to tackle gun and gang violence in the country amid an increase in firearm-related crimes.
Public Safety Minister Marco Mendicino made the announcement in Mississauga, Ont., Monday morning, saying Ottawa is doubling its funding by providing an additional $390 million over five years to help stop gun crime and gun violence.
The money will help provinces and territories in a variety of initiatives, including support for law enforcement and prevention programs, Public Safety Canada said in a statement Monday.
This builds on the Initiative to Take Action Against Gun and Gang Violence (ITAAGGV) that was announced in 2017.
Between 2018 and 2022, Ottawa had committed to approximately $327.6 million in federal funding to tackle an increase in gun violence and gang activity in Canada.
“We’re building on the success of this program by nearly doubling its funding nationally,” Mendicino said.
“This funding is a game changer in our communities. It has already led to and will lead to more seizure of drugs, weapons and cash with the return on investment of over $7 for every $1 invested.”
The federal government said the money has been used by provinces for “an array of important efforts to combat gun and gang violence.”
But, no single initiative can tackle the challenge of gun violence and crime alone, which is why the government wants to also beef up security at the borders and support grassroot organizations, Mendicino said.
As part of its efforts to crackdown on gun violence, Ottawa is also looking to introduce new legislation to make changes to the bail system in the very near future, Mendicino said.
He previously told Global News, in an interview on the West Block, that the Liberal government will table legislation that includes reforms to Canada’s bail laws before the House of Commons rises for the summer in late June.
Firearm-related violent crime has been steadily increasing in Canada.
In 2021, there were 8,047 victims of firearm-related violent crimes in the country, according to the most recent data from Statistics Canada.
That same year, Canada saw 297 police-reported shooting homicides — the highest by firearms ever recorded, StatCan said.
The 2021 gang-related homicide rate was the highest recorded in Canada since 2005.
— with files from The Canadian Press