Government takes action to prevent gun violence with $250 million Building Safer Communities Fund
March 16, 2022 - Markham, Ontario
Canadians deserve to feel safe in their communities, and the Government of Canada is taking action to protect them from gun violence. From banning assault-style firearms to strengthening protections at our borders, we are engaged in a wide array of efforts to address it. Yet the most important element of this work is preventing gun violence from happening in the first place.
To help stop gun violence before it starts, the Minister of Public Safety, the Honourable Marco Mendicino, today announced new federal support through the $250 million Building Safer Communities Fund (BSCF), including $7.3 million for the Regional Municipality of York. The fund will help municipalities and Indigenous communities prevent gun and gang violence by tackling its root causes. The Minister made the announcement alongside Mayor Frank Scarpitti and local Members of Parliament in Markham, Ontario.
To address the conditions that contribute to a young person falling in with crime, the program will provide funds, through 2025-26, to eligible municipalities and Indigenous communities. Municipalities will then distribute funds to local organizations that focus on children, youth and young adults who are involved in or at risk of joining gangs. Funding to communities in Quebec will be determined in collaboration with the provincial government, respecting the jurisdiction of the Government of Quebec.
No single initiative is enough to address the challenge of gun violence and the BSCF is a key element of the government’s comprehensive plan. That plan includes programs that help at-risk young people lead lives free of crime, investments to stop gun smuggling at our borders, and the banning of more than 1,500 models of assault-style firearms.
The Government also updated Canadians on the Amnesty Order that accompanied the May 1, 2020 assault-style firearms prohibition, which will receive an administrative extension until October 30, 2023. This will allow time to ensure that officials can finalize and fully implement a robust mandatory buyback program and allow firearms owners and businesses to take all reasonable steps to come into compliance with the law.
“My number one priority as Minister of Public Safety is keeping Canadians safe, particularly from gun violence. The Building Safer Communities Fund addresses the root causes of crime by creating safe spaces and empowering young people and communities to drive solutions that set them up for success. Building community resilience through prevention is one of the key pillars of our plan to take action on gun violence, along with banning and buying back assault-style firearms and cracking down on illegal guns coming across our borders.”
- The Honourable Marco Mendicino, Minister of Public Safety
“The May 1, 2020 Amnesty Order is an important piece of the ban on assault-style firearms, and its extension will allow all owners of now-prohibited firearms to come into compliance with the law. The additional changes to the Order seek to maintain public safety, facilitate compliance with the law, and support the exercise of rights recognized and affirmed by section 35 of Canada’s Constitution Act, 1982.”
- The Honourable David Lametti, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada
“It’s initiatives like the Building Safer Communities Fund that will make the difference in many cities and communities across the country. As a member of the GTA Mayors group, I can reiterate that we have been calling on the federal and provincial governments to take meaningful action against gun violence. Our communities have had enough and our residents are demanding action be taken. I applaud the federal government for the multidimensional approach; ramping up efforts at the borders, banning assault-style firearms and for creating this significant investment where it’s needed most in preventive programming for our youth.”
- Frank Scarpitti, Mayor of Markham
In Canada, there are over 100,000 formerly restricted firearms that are now prohibited. This number does not include other prohibited models that were not subject to registration requirements.
The amount of BSCF support for a community is based on two major elements: crime severity (homicide by firearm, incidents of firearms offences, organized crime/street gang-involved crime) and population density.
Public Safety Canada will enter into agreements this year with municipalities and communities that have been identified through the evidence-based criteria and meet the program requirements.
Municipalities and Indigenous communities that meet the criteria will be contacted by Public Safety Canada over the coming weeks. A final list will be published once recipients have been notified and agreements are in place.
The BSCF builds on the success of the Initiative To Take Action Against Gun and Gang Violence, a $358.8 million investment over five years that brings together federal, provincial and territorial supports to tackle the increase in gun-related violence and gang activity in Canada.
The May 1, 2020, Amnesty Order protects affected individuals or businesses who possess now prohibited firearms while they take steps to comply with the law.
These prohibited firearms cannot be legally sold, or imported, and can only be used or transported under limited circumstances. While the Amnesty Order remains in effect, they must be securely stored in accordance with the storage requirements for the firearm classification prior to the prohibition. A limited number of activities for disposal are permitted during the amnesty period (e.g., deactivation by an approved business; surrender to police officer; exportation; and, if a business, return to the manufacturer).
An individual should not deliver a firearm to a police station without first making arrangements with a police officer for a safe and scheduled delivery or pick-up.
Firearms owners must keep their firearms securely stored in accordance with the storage requirements until arrangements are made to dispose of their firearm in line with the law.
Director of Communications
Office of the Minister of Public Safety
Public Safety Canada
Office of the Minister of Justice
Department of Justice Canada
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