Canada has committed $20 million over the next five years to enhance Jamaica’s justice and security systems.
Federal Citizenship & Immigration Minister Chris Alexander made the announcement last Saturday on behalf of Canada’s Minister of International Development and La Francophonie, Christian Paradis.
The funding will support Jamaica’s Citizens Security & Justice Program (CSJP) implemented by the country’s Ministry of National Security to strengthen community programs to reduce crime and violence, particularly among vulnerable groups in targeted communities.
“This is the right way to show Canada’s support and generosity to end problems that could lead to opportunities for hundreds of thousands of people in decades to come,” said Alexander, who made the announcement at the third annual Canadian Caribbean Cultural Association of Durham’s (CCCAD) Christmas Toy Drive. “Our funding will provide community members, including school children and at-risk youth, with conflict-resolution and healthy parenting training and more appropriate social skills.”
The project is implemented by Jamaica’s Ministry of National Security using loan funds from the Inter-American Development Bank and grant funding from Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development Canada, as well as the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development.
“We will support the establishment of community action committees to implement safety plans, promote positive relations between citizens and police and ensure government services are better co-ordinated and developed,” said Alexander. “We will make job skills and entrepreneurship training more accessible for vulnerable groups, particularly at-risk youth and women and we will offer citizens – especially women – better access to justice through victim support services, dispute resolution and public education on justice-related rights and services.”
Alexander said the funding will also help to divert children from the courts and incarceration into reintegration programs.
Canada has made the justice sector a priority in the Caribbean and has been assisting Jamaica with its justice system reform agenda through the Judicial Undertakings for Social Transformation project.
This project enlists the support of Justice Canada to assist the Jamaican courts, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecution, the Office of the Parliamentary Counsel, the Legal Reform Department, the Attorney General’s Department and the Ministry of Justice in an ambitious set of systemic reforms aimed at helping Jamaica achieve its national goal of achieving a more secure and just society.
“There are never easy solutions when there are systemic security problems, but we are hopeful that projects like the one we have just implemented and others will bring more security and justice to the citizens of Jamaica and the Caribbean region as a whole,” said Alexander, who was Canada’s first resident ambassador in Kabul, Afghanistan. “The region is in many ways home to many people who have come here and have contributed to our prosperity and our success as a country.”
Alexander singled out Bromley Armstrong as a stalwart who has made his mark in Canada. A retired trade unionist, community organizer and activist, Armstrong – who migrated in 1947 – fought for civil and human rights long before Canada had a legislative and constitutional framework to defend human rights and collective agreements that included human rights language.
“I don’t think there is anyone who better exemplifies what Jamaican-Canadians have accomplished in this country than Dr. Armstrong,” said Alexander.
Last May, the federal government revealed it will contribute $20 million over the next four years to the Inter-American Development Bank’s Canadian Fund for Civil Registration for the Caribbean and Latin America (CFCRCLA) to strengthen civil registration and vital statistics registries.
Improved data collection and support will enhance the ability of countries to plan and deliver life-saving maternal, newborn and child health services. An estimated 1.3 million children under age five are not registered annually in the Caribbean and Latin America.
Canada has committed nearly $600 million over the next 12 years for development programming in the Caribbean.
“That makes us the largest donor community to development in that region in the coming decade after the European Union,” said Alexander.
Formed in April 2011, the CCCAD aims to unify the Black community in Durham through social, cultural, educational, economic, environmental, health and wellness initiatives.
For the past three years, the organization has solicited toys to be handed out at its Christmas event.