Ottawa announces $1.2M for northern Sask. communities to address youth crime

Ottawa announces $1.2M for northern Sask. communities to address youth crime

The federal government has announced $1.2 million to help three communities in northern Saskatchewan address youth crime.

Ile-à-la Crosse, Pelican Lake First Nation and Witchekan Lake First Nation will each have access to $400,000 over two years through Ottawa's national crime prevention strategy.

The money will help each community assess its vulnerability to youth gangs and violence, sex crimes, addictions, mental health issues, bullying and cyber-bullying, according to a news release from the federal government.

It's also aimed at developing local resources, networks, expertise and facilities that help youth avoid crime and gangs.

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale made the announcement in Prince Albert on Tuesday.

He said several places around Canada applied for the funding, but the Saskatchewan communities were successful because of their emphasis on community programs and strategies.

"The communities themselves have led the way on what they want to do and the government of Canada is very pleased to support their efforts," he said.

Goodale also said the government will be "watching very carefully and measuring how successful these ventures are because what's attempted in Witchekan Lake, or Pelican Lake or Ile-à-la Crosse may well be repeatable in other communities across the country"

Crime in northern Sask.

Northern Saskatchewan had the highest crime rate in 2013 out of all northern regions in Canada, according to a Statistics Canada report that came out in 2015.

The crime rate was six times higher per capita then in southern Saskatchewan, although the population in the north is much smaller than the south, according to the report.

However, in 2017 northern Saskatchewan dropped down to the fourth highest crime rate among northern communities in Canada.

In Saskatchewan, the "north" includes communities north of Prince Albert, including La Ronge, La Loche, and a number of northern villages and First Nations.