Government Reviews and Policies

The Ontario government has issued three key strategy documents addressing the issue of youth violence. In 2008, the Review of the Roots of Youth Violence was released, followed by the Ontario Youth Action Plan in 2012. The latest strategy called Stepping Up: A Strategic Framework to Help Ontario's Youth Succeed was released in the Spring of 2013.

Stepping Up: A Strategic Framework to Help Ontario's Youth Succeed

In the Spring of 2013, the Ontario Ministry of Children and Youth Services launched Stepping Up - A Strategic Framework to Help Ontario's Youth Succeed. It is a roadmap for Ontario that is intended to help the government and partners across the province to collaborate on issues pertaining to positive youth development, and has built on past consultations with youth and partners through the Review of the Roots of Youth Violence, Stepping Stones: A Resource on Youth Development and Ontario's Youth Action Plan. The strategic framework reflects input from 18 provincial ministries, the Premier's Council on Youth Opportunities, Dr. Alvin Curling, the Strategic Advisor on Youth Opportunities and co-author of the Review of the Roots of Youth Violence report, and partners in the youth-serving sector, including young people themselves.

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. The resulting document is Ontario's Youth Action Plan.

Review of the Roots of Youth Violence Report

In 2008, the Ontario government commissioned the Honorable Roy McMurtry and Dr. Alvin Curling to complete a report on the root causes of youth violence. The report identifies poverty; racism; community design; issues in the education system; family issues; health; lack of a youth voice; lack of economic opportunity for youth; and issues in the justice system as the root causes of youth violence.

It includes recommendations (among others) that the government focus attention to providing opportunities and hope for youth in disadvantaged neighbourhoods; addressing children's mental health and calling for a ban on handguns in Ontario.

In addition, there are several other provincial strategies and policies that are connected to youth violence prevention:

Breaking the Cycle: Ontario's Poverty Reduction Strategy

Poverty is an important risk factor for youth violence. Poverty is persistent low income, lack of assets and resources, and difficulty in changing one's circumstances for the better. The longer individuals stay in poverty, the harder it is to change their circumstances.

The provincial government recognizes that the causes of poverty are deep-rooted and multi-faceted; and the challenges of addressing these root causes require a comprehensive plan which builds structures that break the cycle of poverty in our communities.

The Ontario Poverty Reduction Strategy (launched in 2008) suggests that:

  • All children should have what they need for the best possible start in life.
  • All Ontarians should have the opportunities and tools they need to succeed.
  • Strong economic and social foundations are critical to a prosperous and healthy Ontario.

The primary goal of the Strategy is to reduce the number of children living in poverty by 25% in five years, by focusing on increasing opportunities and reducing barriers faced by children and their families.

Open Minds, Healthy Minds: Ontario's Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy

Poor mental health, mental illness and barriers to accessing mental health services are risk factors for youth violence.

The Comprehensive Mental Health and Addictions Strategy (launched in 2011) aims to:

  1. Improve mental health and well-being for all Ontarians;
  2. Create healthy, resilient, inclusive communities;
  3. Identify mental health and addictions problems early and intervene;
  4. Provide timely, high quality, integrated, person-directed health and other human services.

In the first three years of the strategy, the focus is on children and youth with attention towards early intervention and support to protect children from the many associated costs of mental illness and addictions and helps steer them on the road to safe, healthy, and happy futures. Specifically, the strategy aims to:

  • Provide children, youth and families with fast access to high quality services;
  • Identify and intervene in child and youth mental health and addictions issues early;
  • Close critical service gaps for vulnerable children and youth, children and youth at key transition points, and those in remote communities.

Other provincial government strategies and policies that play a role in youth violence prevention include:

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