Ontario's Youth Action Plan
On July 23, 2012, in response to gun violence in Toronto, Premier McGuinty announced immediate law enforcement measures and asked Minister of Children and Youth Services, Dr. Eric Hoskins, and Minister of Community Safety and Correctional Services, Madeleine Meilleur, to meet with stakeholders, youth and the public to develop a balanced plan that focuses on giving young people the support they need to succeed and keep communities safe.
Building on the research and recommendations in the Review of the Roots of Youth Violence report, the government's Youth Action Plan incorporates and responds to the feedback received by both Ministers over the past 30 days. The Ministers heard from young people and their families, community organizations that serve and support youth, representatives of the social services, education, justice and business sectors and members of the public.
Through meetings, letters and an online survey, Ontarians shared their experiences and ideas on what can be done to keep their neighbourhoods safe and help young people succeed. Ontarians from all walks of life shared inspiring and enlightening stories about the root causes of crime and how communities are responding to the challenges that place youth at risk.
The Youth Action Plan draws on the expertise and knowledge of organizations and individuals in communities as well as on evidence from programs and services already underway.
Ontario's Youth Action Plan is organized into five principles with 20 action items:
- PRINCIPLE 1: EARLY INTERVENTION
- Expand Parenting and Family Literacy Centres to an additional 17 sites in at-risk neighbourhoods across Ontario. Parenting and Family Literacy Centres are school-based programs in which parents/caregivers and children, from birth to six years of age, participate together in a range of play-based learning activities that focus on the optimal development of the child and the early acquisition of literacy and numeracy skills with the guidance of staff trained in early childhood development. There are currently 155 sites across Ontario, and the expansion will bring the total to 172 sites. PRINCIPLE 2: GREATER OPPORTUNITIES FOR YOUTH THROUGH POSITIVE ALTERNATIVES AND JOBS
- Expand the Summer Jobs for Youth Program in Toronto's priority neighbourhoods and in the Greater Toronto Area to provide 320 new after-school jobs during the school year -- increasing to 440 additional part-time jobs next year. Community agencies that oversee the program will work closely with schools to ensure part-time employment supports school success. This program already provides nearly 4,000 full-time summer jobs to youth each summer in communities across Ontario.
- Expand the Youth in Policing Initiative across Ontario to provide 270 new after-school jobs with police services during the school year. This program already provides funding for nearly 400 full time summer job placements for youth with local police services across the province.
- Create a Private Sector Jobs Initiative led by a council of community and business leaders to create additional job opportunities for disadvantaged young people and help connect them with existing opportunities.
- Expand the Focus on Youth Program to provide summer employment for 220 more young people and summer recreation activities for 3,500 more children and youth in disadvantaged neighbourhoods across the Greater Toronto Area. This program operates in Hamilton, Windsor, Ottawa and Toronto, and has provided summer employment to 5,000 young people and resulted in summer activities for over 100,000 children since 2007.
- Expand the reach of the After School Program in Toronto's priority neighbourhoods and to York, Halton, Peel and Durham regions. This expansion will serve 2,100 more children and youth this year alone. In total, 54,000 children and youth across Ontario have participated in the After School Program since 2009. PRINCIPLE 3: SUPPORTIVE, SAFER COMMUNITIES
- Build on the experiences and positive outcomes of the Youth Challenge Fund to work with partners to develop a new $5-million per year Youth Opportunities Fund. This new fund will support community initiatives in priority and disadvantaged neighbourhoods and will leverage private-sector partnerships to further meet its objectives.
- Increase the number of Youth Outreach Workers in communities across Ontario from 62 to 97. Youth Outreach Workers help young people find opportunities, solutions and resources to address their social, behavioural and educational needs.
- Provide $500,000 in Safer and Vital Communities grants to community organizations across the province to work collaboratively with police to prevent crime. This is in addition to the $500,000 announced on July 23 for Toronto.
- Focus the Proceeds of Crime Program to support stronger co-ordination among the Toronto Police Service, other municipal police services and the Ontario Provincial Police to track guns and gangs and remove them from our streets. In addition, the Proceeds of Crime grant will focus on "Crime Prevention -- Community Mobilization" to provide support to encourage police and community groups to work together in disadvantaged communities for the next two years. PRINCIPLE 4: TACKLING VIOLENCE AND VICTIMIZATION WHILE HELPING YOUTH GET BACK ON TRACK
- As announced on July 23, 2012, secure permanent funding for the Toronto Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (TAVIS) and the Provincial Anti-Violence Intervention Strategy (PAVIS), which targets illegal gang, drugs and weapons activities in communities by focusing on intervention, enforcement and community mobilization.
- Support Crime Stoppers to double the rewards for tips that get guns off the streets and support additional programs that encourage individuals to turn firearms over to the police.
- Call on the federal government to:
- Add federal prosecutors to guns and gangs taskforce.
- Add federal prosecutors to anti-gun smuggling border initiative.
- Implement regulations to improve the markings on imported firearms to help police better trace illegal guns.
- Review and strengthen reintegration supports to ensure that young offenders can transition smoothly out of the youth justice system. PRINCIPLE 5: BETTER GOVERNANCE, CO-ORDINATION AND A SUSTAINED COMMITMENT
- Begin work with partners and youth on a province-wide long-term Youth Strategy that aligns programs and supports for young people around a common set of outcomes. The Strategy will also include evidenced-based decision-making and outcome-focused evaluation to ensure that we are funding the right initiatives and achieving intended results. The strategy will focus on youth opportunities and positive development and will look at additional targeted initiatives for youth who are disconnected and facing multiple barriers to success.
- As recommended by the Roots of Youth Violence report, the Youth Strategy will create Local Youth Planning Tables to reduce duplication and better co-ordinate community programs for young people across the province. The tables will be comprised of representatives from various levels of government, school boards, police, the private sector, employers, youth-serving agencies and young people. We propose to begin with a planning table in Toronto and will continue to roll them out across Ontario. This approach will support place-based solutions as recommended in the Roots of Youth Violence report.
- Establish a permanent Action Committee on Youth Opportunities reporting to the Minister of Children and Youth Services. This committee will be made up of individuals from a variety of communities, cultures and backgrounds including front-line workers, representatives from youth-led organizations and youth. They will provide advice to government on how to better target existing programs and on any new directions that could be pursued by the ministry and the government.
- Work with partners to develop tools to support the measurement and evaluation of community programs.
- As part of the Youth Action Plan, the Roots of Youth Violence will become a permanent part of the mandate of the Poverty Reduction Strategy cabinet-level committee. The committee will be renamed "Poverty Reduction and Roots of Youth Violence" to reflect this expanded focus on social inclusion. Future Poverty Reduction Strategy annual reports will include progress on youth outcomes.
- Dr. Alvin Curling, former MPP and former Speaker of the Legislative Assembly, will be appointed Strategic Advisor on Youth Opportunities to the Minister of Children and Youth Services. Dr. Curling will also be made one of the external members of the Poverty Reduction and Roots of Youth Violence cabinet-level committee.