Youth gangs are not a new phenomenon in Canada. Theoretical and empirical research and evaluation efforts continue with the goal of better understanding and responding to this issue. Advances have been made in defining the nature of youth gangs and their activities, the motivations for joining, and the risk and protective factors that influence involvement in a gang lifestyle.

While a precise measure of youth gang involvement and prevalence of their activities in Canada is not currently available, in the last number of years strides have been made in understanding affiliation among several key populations, namely Aboriginal youth, immigrant youth and young women. Greater insight into specific risk factors, pathways to involvement and desistance, and guidance for prevention and intervention efforts can assist in the future development of solutions to address youth gang involvement and gang-related activities in Canada. Public Safety Canada continues to support effective youth gang prevention and intervention strategies that are known to work based on empirical evidence and lessons learned from past implementation and evaluation experiences.

In Atlantic Canada, the Bacchus outlaw motorcycle club runs the drug trade, according to police biker crime specialists. In the West, bullets fly when the Red Scorpions clash with the United Nations crew. In the Prairies, the White Boy Posse’s migration east from Edmonton has spilled blood in Saskatchewan.

Gang activity even blights Ottawa, one of the world’s safest cities.

The capital logged a record 49 shootings in 2014, prompting police to address concerns about gangland disputes. Among those incidents was a targeted Boxing Day shooting that wounded one man during what investigators called “infighting” between members of the Crips.

“Our government is committed to disrupting the drug, gun, and human trafficking that is fuelling gang operations across the province and threatening the safety of families and neighbourhoods.”

The federal government is providing the province with $65 million over five years to fund the following initiatives, as outlined by the report:

  • Combat human trafficking, including enhancements to survivor supports, investments in dedicated prosecution resources, and future enhancements to the Safer and Vital Communities Grant Program.
  • Create a new Intensive Firearm Bail Team in Peel to support bail hearings and proceedings for gun-related offences in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
  • Establish a GTA/Greater Golden Horseshoe (GGH) Gun and Gang Fund, focused on supporting projects and partnerships in the GTA and GGH, including Toronto, Durham Regional, Halton Regional, Peel Regional, York Regional, Niagara Regional and Hamilton Police Services.
  • Create a new Eastern Ontario Gun and Gang Team that will work closely with the Ottawa Police Service. The East Region team is staffed with four Assistant Crown Attorneys, who will provide prosecutorial support for complex investigative projects and an intensive firearms and gang-specific bail strategy.

“Criminals don’t respect geographic boundaries,” said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones. “That’s why our government is committed to fighting illegal guns and gangs province-wide and ensuring dangerous criminals who commit offences end up where they belong — behind bars.”

Ontario will also dedicate additional funding to extend initiatives that it began implementing earlier this year, including the Provincial Gun and Gang Support Unit and the dedicated Gun and Gang Specialized Investigations Fund.