Jayda Noyes, Daily Herald
The federal government is providing nearly $1.9 million in funding to Prince Albert’s Catholic Family Services (CFS) for a crime prevention program.
The gesture is part of The National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS), which aims to tackle crime and create healthier communities.
The Strengthening Families Program is expected to reach 150 children between the ages of six and 17 over a five-year contract.
It begins on Sept. 26 and has been in the works since April 2015, according to CFS Executive Director Louise Zurowski.
“I can’t keep the smile off my face,” she said, knowing the funding means the program is something people in need can count on consistently.
The announcement was made Tuesday morning by Scott Brison, President of the Treasury Board and Minister of Digital Government.
Brison, who has two children, expressed the need for support in the city to prevent addictions, poverty and violence.
“I’m reminded on an ongoing basis how lucky we are as a family and not every family has (that) luck,” he said.
He touched on the country’s large population of Indigenous youth, who have a high incarceration rate.
With this service, he said the swift growth rates of Indigenous youth can be highly beneficial.
“If they have the opportunity to finish high school and go on to other education, a young population is a real economic advantage to Canada. If they don’t and if they fall through the cracks, it’s no longer an opportunity in terms of the young population, but it’s a real economic and social time bomb,” he said. “Indigenous youth represent one of the most vulnerable populations we have, but right now there’s a lot of families—Indigenous and non-Indigenous—who are really struggling.”
He said it’s important to treat risk factors, such as poverty or addictions, as health issues and not criminal justice issues.
The Strengthening Families Program will teach skills for how to deal with grief and loss, family breakups and anger management.
It offers three types of classes: one for youth, one for parents and caregivers and one for entire families.
Brison said he previously asked those at CFS how they’re funded.
“They smiled and said ‘Well, it’s a lot of work,’ and there’s a lot of people spending a lot of time filling out applications and writing proposals. The reality is the more time you’re spending writing applications and proposals means less time that you have to devote to your core purpose, and that is helping families and children,” he noted.
Brison referenced Hillary Clinton’s book called ‘It Takes a Village,’ which emphasizes a large amount of people having to work to create a safe environment for children.
“In many ways, what you do here is a village,” he said in his speech. “I am confident that this will lead to many more success stories.”