Today, Mayor John Tory announced the City of Toronto’s funding commitment to sustain and expand hospital-based violence intervention programs (HVIPs) throughout the city, including the BRAVE program (Breaking the Cycle of Violence with Empathy).
Mayor Tory was joined for the announcement at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre by Dr. Avery Nathans of Sunnybrook and Dr. Carolyn Snider, St. Michael’s Hospital.
The City-funded BRAVE program was piloted at Sunnybrook, between October 2020 and April 2022, as part of SafeTO, and proved to be successful in reducing and preventing further victimization of those impacted by violence. The new and innovative program uses a public health and trauma-informed approach that coordinates wraparound services and aims to maintain a continuum of care for victims of violence in hospitals and in communities.
Since October 2020, the program has worked with 79 victims of gun violence and stabbings in hospital. Upon victims’ discharge from hospital, BRAVE social workers have made 425 home visits to them to ensure that support continues and that victims are connected to the most appropriate services in their community.
In 2020, City Council approved $100,000 to pilot the BRAVE program at Sunnybrook. Based on the success of the model, Council has since committed another $250,000 to sustain and expand HVIPs in 2022 and 2023. The investment is part of the more than $12 million commitment that City Council has made to SafeTO: Toronto’s 10-Year Community Safety and Well-Being Plan.
Earlier this year, Council approved the funding to continue and expand HVIPs, with an aim to advance the violence reduction goals of SafeTO. The funding will:
Hospital-based violence intervention programs like BRAVE are proven to help people. While the City has committed to investing in and expanding these programs, funding from the Province of Ontario will be crucial in ensuring their future sustainability and effectiveness for victims of violence. The roots of violence are complex and no one stakeholder can reduce violence alone. Intergovernmental investment into violence reduction, health and mental health supportive services are necessary. The City will continue to engage with provincial and federal partners to highlight the need for increased evidence-based, community-oriented violence reduction approaches.
BRAVE is part of SafeTO: Toronto’s 10-Year Community Safety and Well-Being Plan. SafeTO is the City’s new and bold approach to community safety, which focuses on creating a culture of prevention through collaboration with the community, other orders of government and community safety organizations.
More information is available on the City’s SafeTO: A Community Safety & Well-Being Plan webpage.
“The BRAVE pilot program at Sunnybrook, as well as the THRIVE program at St. Michael’s Hospital, have given those most impacted by violence – especially gun violence – a chance to heal and avoid being victimized in the future. We are ready to help fund the supports that are needed for this work and to do what is necessary to help expand these critical and proven supports into other parts of the city. Thank you to all the doctors, researchers and frontline staff at Sunnybrook Health Science Centres and St. Michael’s hospital for your leadership and commitment to the health and safety of our community.”
– Mayor John Tory
“The City of Toronto has been a wonderful and visionary partner in collaborating with the Tory Trauma Program at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. With these investments in advancing SafeTO and our BRAVE program, we have created new and expanded opportunities to reduce the rate of firearm injuries and lessen their impact on those affected. Partnerships between the hospital sector and municipal governments are rare, but they have tremendous potential to touch patients and improve the safety of our communities.”
– Dr. Avery Nathans, Surgeon-in-Chief and Medical Director of Trauma, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre
“A recent Ontario study demonstrated that one in 17 victims of homicide received hospital care for injuries the year prior to their death. Twenty per cent of people injured by violence will have an injury due to violence within the next year. At St. Michael’s Hospital, more than 4,000 patients are seen each year with an injury due to violence, and more than 80 per cent are discharged directly from the emergency department. We have been working with community colleagues, people with lived experience, frontline workers, clinicians, and interdisciplinary researchers from across all of Toronto’s universities to develop a hospital-based violence intervention program called THRIVE. People injured by violence will be met by a coach who provides wraparound care to the individual and their family and works with the individual to improve their capacity to thrive in what are often very complex and difficult circumstances. Similar programs such as these have demonstrated a large reduction in recurrent violent injury, increased engagement in education and decreased involvement in the justice system. We are thankful to the City of Toronto for providing funding, so that we can pilot the program and work in collaboration with hospitals and communities across the city to be part of the larger goal of increased safety and health.”
– Dr. Carolyn Snider, Chief of Emergency Medicine, St. Michael’s Hospital
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