Kitchener-Waterloo

Ontario is 'spreading money out' to police to deal with gun violence: Ford

Premier Doug Ford says the province is 'spreading money out right across the board' to police services across Ontario that have seen a rise in gun violence. NDP MPP Catherine Fife says the premier needs to do more.

'We’re going to work collaboratively with them because it’s a big problem,' Ford says

Premier Doug Ford takes questions from the media during a press event in Kitchener on Friday. He was asked about the increase in gun violence in Waterloo region and he says his government is working collaboratively with police services to address the issue. (Michael Charles Cole/CBC)

Premier Doug Ford says the province is "spreading money out right across the board" to police services to help them deal with an uptick in gun violence.

Ford was in Kitchener Friday morning to reannounce money for 16 transit projects that were previously announced by Minister of Infrastructure Laurie Scott on July 30.

He was asked about multiple shootings in Toronto, as well as the rise in gun violence in parts of southern Ontario such as London and Waterloo region.

Ford said Solicitor General Sylvia Jones is working with police chiefs across the province and meeting with them regularly to address the issue.

"We're going to work collaboratively with them because it's a big problem," he said.

"We're giving money," he added, noting Toronto and Ottawa have both seen increases in funding.

When asked about funding for Waterloo region, Ford would only say, "We're spreading money out right across the board."

"There's no premier that's ever supported the police more than I do. I love our police. They know I love them, and I'll support them anyway I can."

'Premier doesn't get this region'

The answer didn't satisfy Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife.

"This premier doesn't get this region. He doesn't get this community," she said after the press conference. "It's almost comical if it wasn't so serious, and people were getting hurt in our community."

She said the region is facing a number of complex issues, including addiction and human trafficking.

While the Waterloo Regional Police Service is working to address that, and Chief Bryan Larkin is speaking out about these issues, Fife says what the service really needs are resources, financial and otherwise.

She says she plans to continue to push the premier to fund appropriate community policing resources.

Waterloo MPP Catherine Fife speaks to reporters after a press conference in Kitchener on Friday. Fife, who is a member of the NDP, says the province needs to do more to help communities outside of Toronto and Ottawa combat gun violence. (Michael Charles Cole/CBC)

Police funding cut 

The Waterloo Regional Police Service said in May it's facing a shortfall of $800,000 after provincial grants were cut.

WRPS was expecting to get $3.3 million from the previous grants, but under the new program, it will be able to apply for up to $2.48 million for local frontline and community policing initiatives.

Regional Chair Karen Redman, who also chairs the police services board, said there used to be five streams of funding but those have been collapsed into three and there's now competition for the cash.

"It's brought in an element of uncertainty because this is funding that we thought we already have," Redman said Friday.

"One of the funding streams is guns and gangs, and it allows police service boards and police services to collaborate. We know the bad guys don't stop at the end of one jurisdiction and the start of another so that kind of co-operative initiative is absolutely fundamental to good police work and catching the bad guys."

She said they've applied for the additional funding, and they feel they have a good rationale for needing the money.

She said the service has shown it's keen to work with other police services, adding she believes Jones "is very aware" of the issues Waterloo region is facing.

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