Montreal

Quebec pledges $625K to prevent youth delinquency in Saint-Léonard

The Quebec government is betting that spending more money on programs for at-risk youth will help keep them out of trouble with the law or drawn into extreme religious or social movements.

Government says up to $125K per year will be available for YMCA programs for at-youth risk

Quebec Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux said the YMCA is receiving funding for its programs because of its long history of working with at-risk youth in Saint-Léonard. (Radio-Canada)

The Quebec government is betting that spending more money on programs for at-risk youth will help keep them out of trouble with the law or drawn into extreme religious or social movements.

Public Security Minister Martin Coiteux announced the government will invest $625,000 over five years into preventing youth delinquency in the northern Montreal borough of Saint-Léonard.

"We want youth to reach their full potential," said Coiteux at a news conference at the downtown Montreal YMCA.

The money is to be allocated to the YMCA's youth drop-in program in Saint-Léonard, as well as mentorship opportunities and programs such as one that connects students who have been suspended from school with youth workers at the Y.

"This aid will help our existing intervention programs that we offer youth in the neighbourhood," said the YMCA's Montreal president, Stéphane Vaillancourt.

Coiteux said more funds are available to help other groups working on similar projects in other communities.

What about middle-class teens?

However, critics say that money isn't likely to help alienated teens from middle-class backgrounds who need help, too.

"All the young kids who come to the YMCA are looking for something to do. But what about the other ones who go home and go on the Internet?" asked Marie Lamensch, who researches radicalization at Concordia University's  Institute for Genocide and Human Rights Studies

She said more and more middle class kids are deciding to join ISIS because it offers them a feeling of belonging and identity. 

with files from Emily Brass

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