Mr. Chair, thank you for these few minutes. As I was saying when I was interrupted two hours ago, I want to quote from a paper on the cost of crime in Canada; the document was prepared last year by the Research and Statistics Division of the Department of Justice.
It is quite an interesting paper, because it outlines the context in which the government is investing in the fight against crime.
For example, it tells us that crime costs Canadians approximately $59 billion a year. That includes the actual expenditures of the federal, provincial and territorial governments, a total of $12 billion, and the cost of our security and insurance systems, which comes to $7.5 billion. However, the main component of those costs, $39 billion, goes to victims and pays for health services, compensation for damaged property and loss of production.
Aside from the financial burden, which is heavy enough by itself, there is the terrible loss of life. When we try to evaluate the cost of crime, we must take into account the devastating effects of crime on individuals, communities and society as a whole in Canada.
Crime and the fear of crime deprive us of our liberty, diminish our quality of life and undermine our communities' morale. That is why the government will continue to improve the security of the streets and homes in Canada.
Even though it is reassuring to know that our country is safer than it was 10 years ago, we are still determined to reduce crime. During his speech earlier tonight, the minister talked about the National Crime Prevention Strategy and the efforts that are being made to involve Canadians in the fight against crime and to favour, in terms of crime prevention, the adoption of an approach based on cooperation.
I can only support such an objective, and I would like to seize the opportunity to elaborate on the subject. The national strategy was launched nearly five years ago to help communities fight the root causes and the risk factors of crime and victimization.
Clearly, the traditional methods used to fight crime such as arrests, prosecutions, the incarceration of offenders, are useful. However, in order to prevent crime effectively, we need to fight the causes of crime as vigorously as we react to criminal acts. If we do that, we will be able, as the government has done, to establish a balanced public security program.
This means that no effort must be spared on the front lines. The goal is to improve the quality of life of individuals, families and communities and to promote positive attitudes or behaviour for individuals within their communities by influencing family life, life in general, education, employment, housing and recreation.
Communities share, perhaps, a number of challenges related to public security, but each has its own unique problems and must find the solutions best suited to its needs. One size does not fit all.
There is no miracle cure. Crime prevention through social development in its current form is a long-term tried but true process.
The national strategy is based on the principle that the surest way to reduce crime is to focus on the factors that put individuals at risk: factors like family violence, drug abuse and poverty.
No community in Canada is unaffected by these problems, which threaten us all, particularly youth. By targeting the risk factors for crime and victimization, and by cooperating with local communities, the national strategy helps Canadians develop effective solutions to specific problems.
With this in mind, communities were invited to develop solutions for the problems they face, and they responded to this invitation. Since its launch in 1998, the national strategy has supported over 3,200 projects in some 780 communities, of all shapes and sizes, across Canada, that are dealing with problems related to crime and victimization.
The purpose of the national strategy, through such programs, is to support these communities by establishing effective and innovative crime-prevention initiatives. The government is also committed, with regard to assessment and research of the strategy, to determine and demonstrate the effectiveness, cost-effectiveness and the viability of the overall initiative, as well as the projects it supports. The results of this work clearly show that the national strategy is reaching its objectives.
When the resources for the second phase of the national strategy were approved in 1998, a mid-term evaluation was requested. This evaluation was carried out in 2001 and a global evaluation was completed in November 2002. Beside these evaluations and the ones that were initiated after the expansion of the initiative two years ago, a number of studies were carried out in order to examine certain aspects of the national strategy.
I do not have enough time to give all the details of these studies, but I would like to mention some of the conclusions.
A study on the impact of these projects revealed that more than half—63 % to be precise—of the financed projects selected for the study had been maintained beyond the period financing had been provided under the national strategy. The high level of viability of the projects was attributed to the success of the community initiatives, the vitality of the partnerships created for the initial implementation of the project and the ability of the organizations to obtain permanent support from new sources.
The viability issue is of paramount importance. The purpose of the national strategy is still to initiate effective practices that will keep growing within society and in future.
For example, I would like to talk about the Healthy Families project—or Familles saines—that was initiated in Charlottetown, Prince Edward Island. Last November, with the help of the national strategy, the government of that province announced that it was implementing the program and that it would expand the selection, the evaluation and the family support for all the young parents of the province.
More recently, that is, last week, the Ontario government announced a $1.2 million investment to expand an online information service for battered women and their children.
In London, Ontario, an initiative known as Shelternet started up last year thanks primarily to the efforts of the national strategy and to a $50,000 grant.
In Quebec, a diagnostic tool for the analysis of resistance and risk factors in the educational setting, which had been initially supported by the national strategy, has also been supported by the Quebec government.
These success stories say much about the quality of these projects. They are also eloquent testimony to the merit of the partnerships on which they were built.
Since the activities of the national strategy are based in part on partnerships, and in an effort to better understand the roles and contributions of partnerships in the funding of the strategy, a study on this important issue was done in the spring of 2002.
Among other findings, the study showed that partnerships in the national strategy were firmly committed to help both public and private partners to reduce crime and victimization.
This means that the national strategy has been quite successful in building partnerships with organizations that previously felt that crime prevention was not part of their mandate or their activities.
The national strategy has been very successful in promoting crime prevention through social development. In fact, given its widespread adoption in communities across Canada, the distinctions between traditional and non-traditional partners are disappearing.
Finally, in insisting on the notion that partnerships be a key element of funding that is offered through the national strategy, almost all project sponsors have agreed to continue seeking out these types of partnerships in the future. And these are not empty promises.
As part of a study of projects from 1998-2000, the national crime prevention centre determined that for every dollar invested in a project, the strategy mobilized between $1.50 and $2.40 in funding from partners.
These conclusions were strengthened by the preliminary results from the general assessment over the last four years of the second stage of the national strategy. The results indicate that there is a growing interest in communities across Canada in reducing crime by dealing with the underlying causes. In reality, the projects allow for goals to be attained, for targets set by the national strategy to be supported, for innovative approaches to be developed, and for tools and resources to be produced and, as we mentioned, for community efforts to be sustained.
Generally speaking, the conclusions reveal that the national strategy is working as a pan-Canadian initiative. Beyond our borders, the Canadian model of crime prevention is being held up as an example. Canada is considered a leader in the international community for having managed to take a balanced approach to crime reduction.
Everything seems to indicate that the government has succeeded in promoting a proactive and long-term approach to crime prevention through social development. Knowing that this approach is progressive, which we suppose goes without saying, in the context of efforts being made to eliminate the individual social and economic factors that lead some people to commit crimes and others to be victimized by crime, how do these results really describe what is happening in our communities?
What is happening at the local level and what are the various projects achieving?
Right here, in Ottawa, the review of a community-based life skills program for children 6 to 12 years old who are living in social housing for the very needy showed that the number of calls to the police and the number of charges laid by the police has dropped by 50%. The program has also helped to improve the social behaviour of the participants and to increase their overall school success rate.
In the Northwest Territories, a cultural learning project outside the community which helps young aboriginals 6 to 12 years old to learn social skills is already yielding great results; the attendance rate has increased, the number of cases opened by the RCMP has decreased, and the relationship between RCMP officers and young aboriginals has improved.
These projects were developed to try and solve local problems, but, after reviewing them, the national strategy will try to duplicate them to guide the efforts being made in other communities throughout Canada facing the same issues. The blunt fact is that no community is totally immune from the problems these projects are trying to address.
Look at the problem with intimidation and violence in schools. I find it hard to accept that many places in Canada have not given this issue serious consideration. Whether they are students, parents or teachers, Canadians are worried about the violence and fights in classrooms and schoolyards.
In Whitby, Ontario, the national strategy supported the Durham District School Board in its “Together We Light the Way“ project. This local school intervention project was designed to help children, teachers and parents to respect their peers, their role-models and more importantly, to respect themselves. The project was launched as a pilot project in 1998 and its success has been remarkable. In one school, the number of fights decreased by more than 40%. In another institution, the project worked so well that not one case of intimidation was reported for several months in a row.
Even the students recognized the success of the program. They openly talked about controlling their emotions, increased security in the hallways and schoolyards, about learning respect for others and the importance of succeeding at school.
Of the hundred or so projects funded by the national strategy to deal with intimidation, this one will be used in schools in Nova Scotia and Manitoba.
Intimidation, which is a precursor to delinquency, should no longer be considered a normal phase of growth. The national strategy helps communities and schools together with students, parents, teachers and others, to focus on community initiatives to combat intimidation.
We are delighted with and encouraged by the results so far.
I have many more examples, but I see that my time has run out. I would like to conclude by saying that all this was made possible by the help from the National Crime Prevention Strategy.