November is National Community Safety and Crime Prevention Month. It’s one of eight major annual campaigns run by the Canada Safety Council meant to bring attention to the promotion of community safety across Canada.
Overall crime rates in Canada have been trending downward for two decades, but we are hearing more and more about gun–related crimes reported on the news.
The rise in gang and gun violence is rooted in former Ontario Premier Mike Harris’s so-called “Common Sense Revolution” that saw deep cuts into the province’s social safety net, leaving our province’s at-risk youth losing more educational, economic and social opportunities and facing more isolation. The result? At-risk youth ended up turning to gangs for social support and perceived opportunities to make quick money.
And now we have Doug Ford who is picking up where his Progressive Conservative predecessor left off, saying it’s “time to get serious about fighting guns and gangs.”
Since taking office, Mr. Ford has brought in policies that punish those living in poverty and at-risk youth. Among other things, he has cancelled the minimum wage hike, made deep cuts to Legal Aid, cut the Transition Child Benefit, cut programs for at-risk youth and thrown up barriers to higher education by cutting OSAP.
We have some advice to offer Mr. Ford. If he is really serious about fighting guns and gangs and working “for the people,” then he needs to invest in “the people.” When people have equal opportunities to get a good education and to make a decent living wage, that’s when they have hope for the future and are not as likely to turn to a life of crime. And that makes us all safer.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas, President
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida, First Vice-President/Treasurer