The Honourable Peter MacKay, P.C., Q.C., M.P. for Central Nova, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, today announced that the Government of Canada is issuing a call for proposals under the Youth Justice Fund, with up to $390,000 available to support provinces and territories in addressing cyberbullying among youth. Minister MacKay was joined by the Honourable Gail Shea, P.C., M.P. for Egmont and Minister of Fisheries and Oceans.
“Our Government is taking action today to address the serious concern of cyberbullying and ensure that provinces and territories are properly equipped with funding to respond effectively when it occurs,” said Minister MacKay. “Cyberbullying is a complex, emerging problem in a modern technological era that requires comprehensive responses by all levels of government, educators, non-governmental organizations, police, and community groups.”
“Canadians have asked our Government for action against online exploitation,” said Minister Shea. “Our Government is committed to addressing behaviours associated with bullying and cyberbullying and this funding announcement is another coordinated step in that direction.”
The call for proposals will help provinces and territories develop and implement effective youth justice system responses in cases where cyberbullying involves criminal conduct. This can be the case when cyberbullying reaches the level of criminal harassment, uttering threats, child pornography offences, or other offences under the Criminal Code.
The funding is intended to allow provinces and territories to tailor activities to their own specific needs. A broad range of projects will be considered, including but not limited to:
- Developing protocols between schools and police that set out how to best respond when schools are made aware of cyberbullying incidents; and
- Undertaking research aimed at identifying effective community-based responses to cyberbullying that could be used as best practice models in cases where the alleged conduct amounts to criminal behaviour.
The Youth Justice Fund provides grants and contributions to projects that encourage a more effective youth justice system, respond to emerging youth justice issues, and enable greater citizen and community participation in the youth justice system.
This funding builds upon other Government of Canada initiatives to address the serious issue of cyberbullying:
- In April 2013, the federal, provincial and territorial governments agreed to expedite a review of the laws surrounding cyberbullying and non-consensual distribution of intimate images. That review has now been completed and the report of FPT officials is being reviewed.
- Under the National Crime Prevention Strategy, in the fall of 2012, the Government of Canada committed up to $10 million per year toward new crime prevention projects focused on children and youth, including the prevention of school-based bullying.
- GetCyberSafe, the Government of Canada’s public awareness campaign on online safety, has information that includes how to talk to youth about cyberbullying and how to respond to cyberbullying incidents.
This call for proposals is part of the Government’s Plan for Safe Streets and Communities, one of four priorities identified by the Prime Minister Stephen Harper in January 2013. This Plan focuses on tackling crime, enhancing victims’ rights, and increasing the efficiency of the justice system.
The Youth Justice Fund was established in 1999 as part of the Youth Justice Renewal Initiative, and provides grants and contributions funding for projects across Canada. The Youth Justice Fund has a budget of approximately $4.5 million each year.
The Youth Justice Fund has three components:
- The Main Fund supports a broad range of projects relating to youth involved in the justice system. Current funding priorities include youth with mental health issues and/or cognitive impairments such as Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder. The Main Fund can also provide support to respond to emerging youth justice issues.
- The Drug Treatment component supports drug treatment interventions for youth involved in the justice system who are dealing with drug abuse.
- The Guns, Gangs and Drugs component responds to youth involved in the justice system who are involved in, or vulnerable to, gun, gang and drug related activities.
The Youth Justice Initiative is a multi-faceted approach that includes a legislative framework (the Youth Criminal Justice Act) and programming resources that:
- Encourage a more fair and effective youth justice system;
- Respond to emerging youth justice issues; and
- Enable greater citizen/community participation in the youth justice system by encouraging partnerships and innovations, and developing and sharing information and knowledge about youth justice.
Community and Aboriginal organizations, as well as individuals, have been and will continue to be eligible for funding to help develop community-based programming options and partnerships that respond more effectively and in a more meaningful manner to youth in conflict with the law. Funding support is also used to advance changes in provincial/territorial policies and programs that are consistent with the intent of federal policy objectives.
The Youth Justice Fund supports the development, implementation, and evaluation of pilot projects that provide programming and services for youth in conflict with the law. It supports professional development activities, such as training and conferences, for justice professionals and youth service providers. Additionally, it funds research on the youth justice system and related issues.
Projects must target youth who are between the ages of 12 and 17 and currently in conflict with the law, or justice professionals and/or service providers who work with these youth.