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Government of Canada announces federal support to prevent crime and combat auto theft in Ontario

Press Release

From: Public Safety Canada

January 31, 2024

Today, the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs, the Honourable Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, the Honourable Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario, the Honourable Michael Kerzner, Solicitor General of Ontario, and the Honourable Doug Downey, Attorney General of Ontario, announced a federal investment of $121 million to help prevent gun and gang violence in Ontario, including auto theft through the Initiative to take Action Against Gun and Gang Violence (ITAAGGV).

During the announcement, federal and provincial officials spoke to their joint efforts to combat auto theft. This crime is growing in scope in Ontario, and increasingly involves organized crime groups. The proceeds of these thefts are also used to fund other illegal activities.

To combat this issue, the Government of Canada is convening a National Summit on Combatting Auto Theft on February 8. It will bring together all orders of government, industry and law enforcement partners to collaborate on a coordinated response and build on joint initiatives that are already underway.

The Government of Canada is committed to combatting serious and organized crime, reducing gun and gang violence and keeping communities safe.

Quotes

“Too many families in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) and across the country have been impacted by auto theft. By working together, we can make our communities safer through greater enforcement, collaboration, and prevention. I look forward to continuing the discussion with the Government of Ontario and other partners on further actions we can take to combat auto theft at next week’s National Summit.”

– The Honourable Dominic LeBlanc, Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs</

“Our Government recognizes the significant rise in rates of car thefts and is acting immediately to take a broad, multi-faceted approach to reverse this concerning trend. People in Canada need to know that their governments, border security and law enforcement agencies are working together and using every tool available to combat this crime and keep our communities safe.”

– The Honourable Arif Virani, Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada

“Today’s announcement will support Ontario’s ongoing efforts to support our police officers and tackle auto theft, gun crime, and gang violence across the province. Our government is stepping up with new investments to keep our communities safe and I particularly look forward to working with the federal government through next week’s auto theft prevention summit.”

– The Honourable Doug Ford, Premier of Ontario

“Gun crime and auto theft are urgent and interconnected issues in Ontario. It is imperative that police and prosecutors have the tools they need to keep communities safe. The federal funding announced today builds on a combination of recent provincial investments to support strong enforcement and prosecution of crime, in addition to addressing key risk factors associated with crime, violence, and victimization.”

– The Honourable Doug Downey, Attorney General of Ontario

Quick facts

  • In 2022, approximately 9,600 vehicles were stolen in the Toronto area alone, representing a 300% increase since 2015, according to the Canadian Finance and Leasing Association (CFLA).
  • Police services in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) have observed a combined 104% increase in carjackings from 2021 to 2022, according to Criminal Intelligence Service Canada (CISC).
  • Rates of vehicle theft rose by 50% in Quebec, 48.3% in Ontario, 34.5% in Atlantic Canada and 18.35% in Alberta in 2022, as compared to the previous year, according to Équité.
  • Transnational organized criminal groups are believed to be involved in the export of stolen vehicles from Canada, however, most vehicle thefts involve lower level threat groups, with violent street gangs being the most prevalent.
  • The majority of stolen vehicles exported are destined for Africa and the Middle East. Some stolen vehicles also remain in Canada enabling other crimes to be committed with the vehicles and are destroyed afterwards.
  • Investigations into auto theft are led by police of jurisdiction, however, the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) and Sûreté du Québec (SQ) are working together in integrated task forces to target organized crime, including those groups involved in stolen vehicles.
  • At the border, the Canada Border Services Agency (CBSA) responds to 100% of referrals from police of jurisdiction and other intelligence sources to examine outbound containers at points of export that may contain stolen vehicles.
  • CBSA Intelligence in the GTA has supported approximately 14 projects with various police of jurisdiction.
  • Canada has strong laws in place to address motor vehicle theft at various stages of the crime. These include offences that address conduct that precedes the theft, the theft itself, possession and trafficking of stolen property, and tampering with Vehicle Information Numbers (VINs). Offense-related property and proceeds of crime can also be confiscated under the Criminal Code.
  • The Criminal Code also includes comprehensive laws to target organized crime, including specific offences and enhanced investigative tools and enhanced sentencing of offences for violent acts including assault, assault with a weapon, intimidation and the use of a weapon (e.g., firearm) in the commission.
  • The Government of Canada has been engaging with industry and other stakeholders on auto theft, including port authorities, rail and shipping companies, as well as manufacturer associations and the insurance industry, as part of our collective effort to combat this crime.
  • In 2023, the Government of Canada announced an extension and expansion of the ITAAGGV program, with $390 million over five years through the Gun and Gang Violence Action Fund to provinces and territories for a variety of initiatives, including support for law enforcement and prevention programs.
  • ITAAGGV investments are complemented by the $250 million Building Safer Communities Fund (BSCF). First announced in March 2022, the BSCF provides funding directly to municipalities and Indigenous communities to support local initiatives that prevent gun and gang violence and help young people make good choices.

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Contacts
Jean-Sébastien Comeau
Press Secretary and Senior Communications Advisor
Office of the Honourable Dominic LeBlanc
Minister of Public Safety, Democratic Institutions and Intergovernmental Affairs
343-574-8116
Jean-Sebastien.Comeau@iga-aig.gc.ca

Media Relations
Public Safety Canada
613-991-0657
media@ps-sp.gc.ca

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