Ontario Takes Action to Combat Cybercrime
October 03, 2022
Funding will help prevent online hate crime, human trafficking and fraud
TORONTO — The Ontario government is investing more than $1.6 million over two years to help fight cybercrime. The funding will be allocated to 18 community-based, not-for-profit organizations and First Nations Chiefs and Band Councils to support projects that prevent online hate crime, human trafficking and fraud.
“As our lives become increasingly reliant on technology, cybercrime continues to grow and affect an ever-expanding range of victims,” said Solicitor General Michael Kerzner. “Our government is committed to finding solutions to help prevent cybercrime – especially crimes such as internet fraud schemes that affect vulnerable seniors; the luring of young people via social media that can lead to human trafficking; online scams that target local businesses; and hate crimes. This funding will support local organizations and their police services to work together to increase awareness about these pervasive crimes and help prevent them from happening in their communities.”
Among the organizations receiving funding is the Jane Finch Community and Family Centre in Toronto. Its “Sister’s Keeper” project, supported by Toronto Police Service’s Community Partnership and Engagement Unit, will work with young Black and racialized women in the Black Creek-Jane Finch community to develop a youth-led prevention and awareness strategy to combat sex and human trafficking. The project’s use of targeted online social media strategies and in-person information sessions in local settings and schools will aim to reduce risks that contribute to human trafficking and to build strengths, skills and resiliency in youth.
Funding for projects is being delivered through the Safer and Vital Communities (SVC) grant program and will support a variety of initiatives, such as:
- Developing education campaigns and community resources to increase public awareness about cybercrime, with a focus on hate crimes, human trafficking and fraud.
- Introducing training to equip vulnerable job seekers with the knowledge and critical thinking skills necessary to detect and prevent fraudulent recruitment and employment schemes.
- Developing an online education tool and teacher facilitation package to help increase awareness about cybercrime, especially related to human trafficking, among students in Grades 6-9.
- Organizing workshops, discussions and forums among diverse population groups to ensure a better understanding of the different types of cybercrime, how it can be prevented, and what resources are available to support victims.
- Creating a collection of videos and resource books for retailers to help prevent cybercrime in the retail sector.
- Undertaking engagement in First Nations communities to help enhance understanding about the roots of online hate crime and its impact on victims.
“Ontario’s strength is its diversity. Our government is building safer and inclusive communities by helping to educate, support and protect those who are being targeted online by perpetrators of hate crimes, human trafficking, fraud and other cybercrimes,” said Michael Ford, Minister of Citizenship and Multiculturalism. “This funding will make a big difference in stopping these heinous crimes from happening and provide racialized people with the tools and resources they need to stay safe.”
“This initiative is another bold step in the fight against human traffickers who use social media, messaging platforms and illicit websites to lure, groom, and recruit children and youth into sexual exploitation,” said Dr. Merrilee Fullerton, Minister of Children, Community and Social Services. “Innovative solutions in the cybercrime space are an essential tool in stopping predators and protecting our children and youth.”
“Cybercrime causes irreparable harm and we are fighting back,” said Charmaine Williams, Associate Minister of Women’s Social and Economic Opportunity. “I am very pleased that we can help make a difference in the Jane Finch community because I know how many lives this grant is going to positively affect.”
- According to recent data released by Statistics Canada, the number of police-reported cyber-violations across Ontario increased 201 per cent from 2017 to 2021.
- Further, the rate of cybercrime in Ontario in 2021 was 193.2 out of 100,000 individuals.
- The Safer and Vital Communities Grant is open to incorporated community-based, not-for-profit organizations as well as Indigenous community-based, not-for-profit organizations and First Nation Chiefs and Band Councils.
- Grant recipients are required to partner with their local police service and are encouraged to partner with at least one other organization from a different sector to ensure a broad range of community engagement.