Federal funding to combat guns, gangs and opioid crisis

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said illicit drugs are often main cause of guns, gangs violence

The federal government has announced $10 million in emergency funding to combat the opioid crisis from the frontlines in B.C., as part of a larger funding commitment to combat gun violence and gang activity across the country.

During the announcement at B.C. RCMP headquarters in Surrey Friday, Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said a new $326 million in federal funding will be used to help support a variety of initiatives to reduce gun crime and criminal gang activities.

There were 2465 criminal firearms violations across Canada in 2016 – an increase of 30 per cent since 2013, Goodale said.

Exactly where the money will go will be determined during a Criminal Guns and Gangs Summit in March next year, which is expected to include stakeholders from law enforcement, all levels of government, health authorities and Indigenous groups.

Goodale added that the production, trafficking and sale of illicit drugs – such as fentanyl – are often the main cause of guns and gangs violence.

More than 1,100 people have died from overdoses this year in B.C., making it one of the hardest hit by the epidemic. Police, paramedics and frontline workers have all increased staffing in an effort to better respond to the increase in overdoses since death tolls began climbing in early 2016.

The announcement comes a day after the Health Minister Ginette Petitpas Taylor announced federal plans to boost treatment options for opioid drug users during a conference Wednesday.

More to come.

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