December 4, 2018

Youth violence remains a concern in Toronto. Research has identified that there are main areas lacking when addressing this issue:

  • the youth services sector as a whole is vast and poorly coordinated across communities, service providers, and governments; and
  • youth in the greatest need for support to reduce the likelihood of involvement in violence are those who face the most barriers to accessing those supports.

The Toronto Youth Equity Strategy (TYES) is a multi-year framework unanimously adopted by City Council on February 19, 2014.  TYES recognizes that not all of Toronto’s youth live in the same context of opportunity and support and when solutions are designed to meet the complex needs of the most high-risk youth, all youth benefit.  The Strategy targets young people (aged 13 to 29) who are most vulnerable to involvement in serious violence and crime by taking steps to better coordinate youth service delivery in Toronto, and by identifying specific service enhancements to achieve equity in outcomes for these youth.

TYES provides the City with the opportunity to collaborate with other orders of government, funders, service providers and youth to implement an integrated service strategy that effectively supports youth who are at high risk of violence and trauma.  The Strategy includes 28 recommendations and 110 possible actions that can be taken by City and other stakeholders to drive systemic reform that will benefit youth who are most vulnerable to involvement in serious violence and crime.

Since the Strategy was adopted by Council, 84 of the 110 possible actions have either been implemented or are being implemented. Four recommendations are no longer relevant due to a program closing, or because an initial consideration of the recommendation determined it to be not helpful. Twenty-two recommendations have not been implemented, because they were not prioritized within the existing resources or they did not receive additional resources.

Implementation of TYES contributed to increased programming for youth most vulnerable to violence and crime, most notably in the areas of youth spaces, the expansion of FOCUS and Toronto Youth Job Corps, and the initiation of the first Extra Judicial Measures initiative in Ontario.

The Strategy continues to work on proposed actions related to employment, training and mentoring for youth most vulnerable to violence and crime. More broadly defined as gang intervention and exit programming, many such programs receive episodic funding with no core, ongoing support.

The estimated cost of TYES implementation in 2014 was $15M. The total direct investment to date is approximately $13.5M and does not include investments aligned with the Strategy such as the expansion of the Toronto Youth Job Corps Program and Community Partnership and Investment Program grants.

TYES is aligned with other City strategic plans including the Toronto Strong Neighbourhood Strategy, Poverty Reduction Strategy, Recreation Service Plan, Middle Childhood Strategy and Toronto Newcomer Strategy.

An interdivisional table has been created to coordinate City services for youth, including the following divisions responsible for leading or supporting the implementation of TYES:

  • Economic Development & Culture
  • Equity, Diversity & Human Rights
  • Parks, Forestry & Recreation
  • Social Development, Finance & Administration
  • Shelter, Support & Housing & Administration
  • Toronto Community Housing
  • Toronto Employment & Social Services
  • Toronto Public Health
  • Toronto Public Library
  • Toronto Police Service

Since 2016, the Province of Ontario has provided a total of $588,000 in one-time funding for the creation of a Youth Portal, the expansion of the Youth Pre-Charge Diversion (More Life Skills) and the development of a Youth Violence Prevention Plan, in line with the FOCUS Toronto model. Provincial funding for these TYES initiatives end in March 2019.

In July 2018, Council approved a number of initiatives (pending provincial and federal support) to address youth violence, many of which are directly or indirectly related to TYES recommendations. On July 31, 2018, Social Development, Finance and Administration submitted 6 applications to National Crime Prevention Fund (through Pubic Safety Canada) for a total of $32.6M over five years to increase community responses by the City for proven violence prevention and intervention initiatives that align with TYES.

In 2019, staff will undertake a review of the Toronto Youth Equity Strategy to determine how the City of Toronto should move forward with the work of supporting youth most vulnerable to violence and crime.

Media contact: Natasha Hinds Fitzsimmins, Strategic Communications, 416-392-5349, Natasha.HindsFitzsimmins@toronto.ca