TORONTO — Ottawa has decided to extend its security infrastructure program for communities at risk of hate crimes for at least one more year.
As a three-year pilot project that began in 2008, the program made approximately $1 million available annually for applicants to help defray the costs of security at schools, places of worship and other institutions.
During the pilot phase, the government approved a total of 121 projects.
David Koschitzky, chair of the Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) applauded the extension.
“It is an unfortunate reality that some communities need to worry more about their safety than others, but it is indeed comforting to know our government understands these concerns and is prepared to offer assistance,” he said in a statement.
Communities have so far typically used the funds to purchase items such as security cameras, extra lighting, alarms, closed-circuit TV systems and fencing, the government said in a Dec. 15 statement on the renewed funding.
Minister of Public Safety Vic Toews made the announcement in Toronto last week.
Speaking later to The CJN, Toews said the government wasn’t committing to another three years for the program, but would “re-evaluate” the success of the extension and then make a decision on further funding after 2012.
Asked whether the pilot program had proven effective in reducing hate crimes, Toews said that the evidence is still “anecdotal” but participants have “indicated they’ve seen a drop-off.”
“I recognize that hate crime as a reportable offence has increased over the last little while, but I’m wondering if that’s as a result of communities bringing these concerns forward to the police whereas before these were either unreported or reported as public mischief,” Toews said.
The ministry has set a Feb. 12 deadline for the 2012 round of applications.
B’nai Brith of Canada CEO Frank Dimant was at the announcement and also welcomed the news.
“This initiative shows the continuing commitment of the federal government to a sustained, long-term effort to provide for the safety and security of all Canadians,” he said in statement.
Len Rudner, CIJA’s director of community relations and outreach, also attended Toews’ news conference and said he’s pleased the government has decided to make the program an ongoing one.
After Toews’ announcement, Rudner said CIJA sent out a notification to its local partners across the country to alert the Jewish community about the extension and application deadline.
“We provided the details of the program and copies of the application form. We at the centre are also ready to assist” in filling out the form, Rudner said.
For more information, visit http://www.publicsafety.gc.ca/prg/cp/sip/index-eng.aspx.