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SECU Committee Report

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Mr. Daryl Kramp, M.P.
Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON  K1A 0A6

Dear Mr. Kramp,

On behalf of the Government of Canada, it is my pleasure to provide the following response to the recommendations of the Ninth Report of the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security titled: “Social Finance as it Relates to Crime Prevention in Canada”, tabled in Parliament on February 16, 2015.

I would like to commend the Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security (SECU/the Committee) for its tireless efforts to better protect Canadians by focusing on important public safety and national security issues. It is appreciated that the Committee dedicated time to take on the study on social finance in the domain of crime prevention. Your report highlights testimony from a number of expert witnesses and valuable recommendations on this innovative way to generate new collaboration, ideas and sources of funds to address social issues and it illustrates how social finance can augment funds put toward crime prevention in Canada. The Government agrees in principle with the Committee’s recommendations and for the purpose of this response, they have been grouped into two thematic areas: Social Finance and Crime Prevention Programs; and Stakeholder Engagement on Social Finance.

Social Finance and Crime Prevention Programs

(Aligned with recommendations 1,2,3,4,6,8,9 and 10)

Crime prevention is an important component of the Government’s agenda to create safer neighbourhoods and communities. The Government, through Public Safety Canada’s (PS) National Crime Prevention Strategy (NCPS), provides national leadership on effective and cost-efficient ways to prevent and reduce crime by intervening on the crime related risk factors in high risk populations and places.

This is done in part by promoting the implementation and evaluation of evidence-based interventions as well as the development and dissemination of practical knowledge to foster the adoption of effective practices.

In the context of crime prevention, the Government alone does not necessarily have solutions to every problem facing Canadian communities. Social finance can provide new opportunity to: expand upon the existing public investments in crime prevention; allow for new partners and innovative practices to play a role in the problems facing our communities; sustain effective efforts currently underway; expand upon best practices which have already been proven to be effective overall, and as a result, reduce the burden on the criminal justice system. The Government acknowledges that it is important to forge new types of collaboration and explore different funding opportunities to help sustain successful crime prevention projects. Expanding the reach of initiatives to communities that have crime issues that are currently not being addressed is essential to ensuring the public safety needs of the communities across the country. As such, one of the main goals for the Government exploring social finance in this domain is to broaden the reach of crime prevention, to improve outcomes for the vulnerable populations served through collaboration with stakeholders, and to generate new ideas and new sources of funds to facilitate sustaining and/or scaling-up of proven crime prevention initiatives. 

PS, on behalf of the Government, is currently working toward developing a pilot project to test the applicability of social finance models in the domain of crime prevention. As part of the pilot project development process, further analysis will be required to assess which crime prevention programs would be well-suited to be implemented through any given social finance model. The Terms and Conditions for the crime prevention funding programs under the NCPS will need to be reviewed to assess the extent of changes required to foster social innovation and the ability to pursue collaboration with the private sector in implementing social finance models.

In addition, in accordance with the recommendation that options be considered to merge crime prevention program interventions with employment and skills training, PS has already engaged in preliminary discussions with Employment and Social Development Canada (ESDC). Further discussions will explore the possibility of collaborating with ESDC to examine the potential application of a social finance model that could support common policy objectives.

Stakeholder Engagement on Social Finance

(Aligned with recommendations 5 and 7)

Given that the underlying principle for social innovation and social finance is strong collaboration, it is of the utmost importance to ensure that a variety of stakeholders are part of the dialogue moving forward. The Government is considering undertaking a series of discussions with multiple stakeholders to benefit from their viewpoints. The Government has already had engagement with investors, intermediaries and service providers on social finance.

To build awareness and facilitate dialogue on social finance as it relates to crime prevention, PS, on behalf of the Government, held roundtables, participated and presented at conferences and hosted workshops. More outreach and engagement will need to be explored to help inform the development of social finance proof-of-concept crime prevention pilots. Further discussions with stakeholders can facilitate greater awareness to help build the Canadian knowledge base on social finance as it relates to crime prevention and support the development of best practices.

With regard to the provinces and territories, on behalf of the Government, PS is overseeing the implementation of the five-year National Action Plan on Crime Prevention (National Action Plan) endorsed by the Federal, Provincial and Territorial (F/P/T) Ministers Responsible for Justice and PS in 2013. The National Action Plan expresses an F/P/T commitment to advance evidence-based crime prevention and identify options for diversifying funding mechanisms through exploring the possibility of joint funding agreements and innovative social finance mechanisms. An F/P/T Sub-Working Group on Social Innovation was created in spring 2015 to provide a forum for national collaboration and exchange of knowledge for the advancement of social finance mechanisms in the domain of crime prevention.

In closing, the SECU study and report has provided a great deal of insight and strongly supports the objectives of the Government with regard to social finance as it relates to crime prevention. Once again, on behalf of the Government, I thank the Committee Members for taking valuable time to pursue this study and for promoting enhanced public safety, and better social and economic outcomes for Canadians by urging the Government to explore the use of innovative social finance mechanisms as a way to enhance and expand the reach of and sustain effective crime prevention programs in communities across the country.        

Steven Blaney, P.C., M.P.

Minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness