by AJNews staff
(AJNews) – On Dec. 19, Ottawa announced it was providing further support to communities at risk of hate-motivated crimes through an additional $5 million to the expanded Communities At Risk: Security Infrastructure Program (SIP).
“There is no place for hate in Canada, nor will there ever be. In the face of a troubling rise in anti-Semitic and Islamophobic acts and rhetoric, our government is redoubling its efforts to keep all communities safe,” stated Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs
“As we support vulnerable communities in protecting their gathering places, I have every confidence that our law enforcement and intelligence agencies will continue to monitor and counter all potential threats to Canadians.”
The expanded SIP, which launched on November 9, 2023, with an initial investment of $5 million, now has a total of $10 million to help Canadian communities at risk of hate-motivated crimes protect and strengthen the security of their community centres, places of worship and other institutions. This new temporary measure to the SIP will cover new sites, such as office spaces and daycares, that are clearly linked to communities at-risk of hate-motivated crime, as well as costs associated with time-limited security guards.
“Jews in Canada have seen an unrelenting wave of antisemitism since Hamas attacked Israel on October 7th,” said Shimon Koffler Fogel, President and CEO, Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA). “Anti-Israel demonstrations have veered into antisemitic acts perpetrated against Canada’s Jewish community, with threats against Jewish Community Centres, Jewish schools, and Jewish-owned businesses becoming regular events for many within the community… Today’s investments are, unfortunately, a necessary step to help the Jewish community protect itself against all-time rise in threats.”
Approved project proposals are eligible for funding up to a maximum of 50% of total eligible project costs. Projects must be completed by March 31, 2024.
Since SIP’s inception, the Government of Canada has invested over $14 million through the program to support over 600 projects for communities at risk of hate-motivated crimes.
Earlier this month, the Province announced it was increasing funding for security infrastructure and officer presence at Islamic and Jewish faith-based schools to improve safety.
“It has become clear that demand exists,” stated Mike Ellis, Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Services. “In recent months, schools and parents have approached the government, expressing concerns about school security and options for responding to the needs. We’re taking proactive steps that will help keep students and worshippers safe.”
Eligible faith-based schools that have identified the need for short-term physical security on campus will be able to apply for up to $20,000 in funding. The Alberta Sheriffs will also be made available upon request when asked by local police to support law enforcement in monitoring sensitive religious and cultural infrastructure such as synagogues, mosques, eligible schools, and community centres to deter hate-motivated vandalism and harassment.
“The rise in hate-motivated violence has no place in Alberta,” stated Minister of Justice Mickey Amery. “We are taking action to protect Albertans from this violence, with a particular emphasis on protecting our children in faith-based schools. Let me be perfectly clear – people from all faiths are welcome in Alberta and the fundamental right to peaceful protest belongs to all Canadians. As minister of justice and attorney general for the Province of Alberta, I will do everything necessary to protect those rights.”
Alberta’s Jewish community appreciates the expansion of security funding and the provision of Alberta Sheriffs as required, stated Jewish Federation of Edmonton CEO Stacey Leavitt-Wright. “With a rise in antisemitism and incidents of hate targeted towards Alberta’s Jewish community, we have required additional security measures so our children can attend school without fear of attack, so we can worship in our synagogues and so we can attend cultural community events. With this added layer of protection, our community obtains the security it needs to function.”
The Edmonton Islamic Academy also welcomed the announcement. “Edmonton Islamic Academy is grateful for the provincial government’s commitment to include faith-based independent schools within the Alberta Security Infrastructure Program,” noted Principal Abraham Abougouche. “This grant helps independent schools such as Edmonton Islamic Academy provide students and staff with appropriate supports and security measures and, ultimately, allows students to access their education in a safe and secure environment.”
“The Alberta Sheriffs are an integral part of our province’s law enforcement continuum and look forward to working with local police to ensure the safety of all Albertans at our educational institutions and places of worship,” stated Bob Andrews, acting chief, Alberta Sheriffs