Funding announced for expansion of Circles of Support and Accountability model across Canada

News Release

Funding provided to support national community-based program shown to reduce re-offending rates for sexual offenders and prevent victimization.

May 5, 2017      Ottawa, Ontario             Public Safety Canada

The Government of Canada is committed to keeping Canadians safe.  Today, the Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister for Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, announced that $7.48 million in federal funding has been made available under the National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS) for the crime prevention project Circle of Support and Accountability (CoSA) National Capacity Project.

CoSA is a Canadian-made, community-based program recognized internationally for its effectiveness at lowering rates of reoffending and preventing victimization.  The previous iteration of CoSA has demonstrated promising results.  The CoSA National Capacity Project will provide an opportunity to further evaluate the model.

The project will aid CoSA sites in 14 communities across the country to help offenders accept accountability and responsibility for their actions as they complete their sentences and return to the community.  Circles provide these former offenders with a weekly support network, made up of trained staff and volunteers that assist and promote their safe and successful reintegration into the community.


“Re-establishing funding for this important Canadian-made program demonstrates our commitment to evidence-based criminal justice policy. This project will help reduce victimization and keep our communities safe by holding ex-offenders accountable for their actions and giving them the support they need to become responsible and productive members of society.

– The Honourable Ralph Goodale, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

"CoSA Canada is committed to making communities safer for all Canadians by offering support to sex offenders while holding them accountable for their actions.  Circles, which have been shown to reduce recidivism by more than 70%, are so effective because of the hard work of citizens across the country who volunteer their time to make a positive impact.  The volunteers, with the support of dedicated site staff and professionals from the justice community and beyond, collaborate to achieve Circles of Support Accountability’s goal of No More Victims.”

-David Byrne, Chair, Board of Directors, CoSA Canada

Quick Facts

  • CoSA works primarily with ex-offenders who have committed one or more sexual offences and who require support to live a positive, crime free life.

  • Its evaluation has highlighted that recidivism rates over five years for CoSA participants were much lower, for example, 5.6% vs. 22% of ex-offenders not participating in CoSA; and every dollar invested in CoSA is worth $4.60 in savings to society in terms of justice system costs, loss of productivity, and pain and suffering.

  • CoSA Canada is also using some of this funding to develop standardized material such as a CoSA Canada Operational Model, best practices manual, standardized volunteer training manual, development procedures and policies to build a network of resources that will facilitate the accessibility of this program across the country. 

  • CoSA supports former offenders by:

    • facilitating their practical needs (i.e. access to medical services, social assistance/financial means, seeking employment/affordable housing, etc.) and by providing a consistent network of emotional support;  
    • Developing constructive and pro-social strategies and solutions to everyday problems and concerns as well as celebrate successes; and
    • Challenging the Core Member’s behaviours and attitudes that may be associated with his offending cycle.
  • The National Crime Prevention Strategy provides national leadership on effective and cost-effective ways to prevent and reduce crime among at-risk populations and vulnerable communities by intervening to mitigate the underlying factors that put individuals at risk of offending.  Up to $43 million will be available in 2017-2018 through grant (5%) and contribution (95%) to support NCPS in the implementation and evaluation of crime prevention programs.

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Scott Bardsley
Office of the Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness

Media Relations
Public Safety Canada

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