Security infrastructure funding programs on hold
By Jennifer Brown
There wasn’t much coverage of the announcements but there were two small programs related to security spending in last month’s federal budget, but both are now in question in anticipation of a new government and a new federal budget.
By Jennifer Brown
There was $21 million in new money announced for much-needed hold-baggage screening at Canadian airports. There was also news of the continuation of funding for a pilot project aimed at supporting community groups who have been victims of hate crimes or violence.
On March 18, the then federal Conservative government announced $355, 685 in support for security infrastructure improvements to protect 17 community organizations in Ontario from threats of violence. These organizations are receiving the federal monies from the Communities at Risk: Security Infrastructure Pilot (SIP) Program.
The SIP Program provides funding for security enhancements for not-for-profit community centres, provincially recognized educational institutions, and places of worship linked to a community with a demonstrated history of being victimized by hate-motivated crime.
Eligible costs include security assessments (not to exceed 25 per cent of total project costs); security equipment and hardware, such as alarm systems, closed-circuit television systems, digital video recorders, fences, gates, and lighting; minor construction costs related to the project, such as contractor fees, labour, equipment rental, installation fees; and training costs directly related to the new security infrastructure.
The SIP Program was created in July 2007 and was a $3-million, three-year pilot program administered by Public Safety Canada. The SIP Program has approved funding to 121 organizations across Canada since it was created. It was then twice re-extended by the government in order to provide groups with more time to apply.
Public Safety Canada is currently considering options for the continuation of the program, pending the outcome of the election May 2.
Among the 17 community groups in Ontario that had been approved to receive funding under the latest announcement included those from the Jewish, Muslim and Hindu faiths. Amounts granted in Ontario were the largest across the country such as $68,000 for The Hindu Samaj of Hamilton and Region, The Lebanese Muslim Society Centre (Niagara Falls) for $50,149.36 and the Chabad of Midtown (Toronto), which was approved for $21,771.75.
Earlier in March, eight groups in Western Canada received $99,000 in funding under the program including the Immigrant Centre Manitoba Inc. and Manitoba Islamic Association in Winnipeg; the White Buffalo Youth Lodge in Saskatoon; Akiva Academy and Chabad Alberta in Calgary; the Edmonton City Centre Church Corporation in Edmonton; the Interior Indian Friendship Society in Kamloops; and the Peretz Centre for Secular Jewish Culture in Vancouver.
The amounts of money allocated may not seem like a lot when it comes to access control and perimeter protection systems, but for the individual groups, it was considered an important starting block says Doron Horowitz, Director of Community Security for the UJA Federation of Greater Toronto.
Horowitz was instrumental in the development of the program in that he was an advisor to the government on behalf of the Jewish community in terms of helping them develop the guidelines for what would be covered. He also testified on Parliament Hill on the Canadian Parliamentary Coalition to Combat Anti-Semitism.
“Working with the government we advocated it politically but also advised on criteria and helped develop the process regarding in-kind contributions and helped Jewish community groups determine the areas they should be investing in,” says Horowitz.
One of the drawbacks of the program was it wouldn’t cover costs related to manpower which can be the most significant cost of any project.
Groups who have received funding under the program had to cover 50 per cent of the costs of the hardware and 25 per cent of the risk assessment.
“We’re not talking about huge amounts of money but it served to motivate institutions who are hurting for money to at least consider applying for some funding to address a problem,” he says.
In contract, similar groups in the U.S. have received considerably money under the Department of Homeland Security’s program —largely because Jewish groups have been deemed targets of terrorism.
Here, Horrowitz says the government makes a distinction between anti-Semitism and terrorism.
“They will not cover terrorism; they will cover anti-Semitism,” says Horrowitz.