By the numbers: Homicide rates in Waterloo Region

Posted on: January 16th, 2017 By: Daniel Bader

Homicide rates rose in 2015 in Canada, Ontario, and Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo census metropolitan area (CMA).[1]  It will remain to be seen over the next few years whether this represents a notable change or simply reflhttp://ftn#1ects year-to-year variations in rates.  Nonetheless, homicide rates in both Ontario and the Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo CMA continue to be below the national average, and Canada’s homicide rate has been dropping overall since 1975. What we do see is that homicide continues to impact some groups more than others, including Aboriginals, males, and those living in the Prairie Provinces.

The homicide rate in Canada rose in 2015 by 15%, reaching its highest levels since 2011. In 2014, there were 521 homicides, while in 2015, there were 604, increasing the homicide rate per 100,000 Canadians from 1.47 to 1.68.[2], which is still 2% lower than the average rate for the ten-year period between 2005 and 2014.[3]

Ontario also saw an increase in the homicide rate from 1.14 to 1.26.  The Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo CMA also saw an increase in homicides from 3 to 6, with a corresponding increase in the homicide rate from 0.56 to 1.11, but these numbers are more variable because of the lower number of homicides.

Homicides in Canada, 1964-2015:

What has changed

2015 saw increases in homicide both involving firearms and involving gang violence. In Canada in 2014, 155 homicides were committed with a firearm, compared to 178 in 2015, an increase of 15%, and the highest number since 2008. Gang-related homicides also increased from 82 in 2014 to 98 in 2015, an increase of 20%, and the highest number of gang-related homicides since 2011.

The number of homicides increased primarily in three provinces: Ontario, which had 18 more homicides for a local increase of 23%; Alberta, which had 27 more homicides for a local increase of 25%; and Saskatchewan, which had 19 more homicides for an increase of 79%.

However, not all changes in homicide rates were increases.

  • Homicides by strangers dropped by 21% from 73 to 58 between 2014 and 2015. Conversely, 87% of victims knew those accused of their homicides.
  • Intimate-partner homicides remained relatively stable, with 83 such homicides in 2015 compared with 80 such homicides in 2014.

Continuing Patterns

Homicide continues to affect certain portions of the population and certain parts of Canada more than others.

  • Homicide continues to disproportionately involve Aboriginal Canadians, with 25% of homicide victims and 33% of those accused of homicide being Aboriginal, though Aboriginals make up only 5% of the population.

Homicides among Aboriginal people in Canada:

  • Males continue to be over-represented when it comes to homicide, accounting for 71% of homicide victims and 88% of those accused of homicide.
  • Homicide continues to be overly prominent in  the Prairie Provinces, for all of which homicide rates are now over 3 per 100,000, with Saskatchewan’s and Manitoba’s rates being more than double the national average.

Putting It All Together

Homicide provides a significant cost to Canadian society.  According to a research report by Public Safety Canada, each homicide costs Canadians between $4.8 and $5.9 million.[4]  These costs, along with the human costs of homicide, provide important incentives for monitoring and reducing the number of homicides in Canada.

Though homicide rates increased between 2014, it is difficult to say what this means. There have been similar spikes before, such as in 2011, when the rate spiked by 8% only to drop by over 10% the next year. Ontario witnessed a similar spike and drop between 2005 and 2006. In regard to the Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo CMA, because there are so few homicides, the homicide rate is likely to vary from year to year, with 8 homicides in 2013, then 3 in 2014 and 6 in 2015. It would take several years of higher rates before any continuing pattern could be identified. Nonetheless, the homicide rate in Ontario of 1.26 per 100,000 remains below the national average of 1.68, as does the homicide rate in the Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo CMA at 1.11 per 100,000. Overall, homicide has been on a decline since a national high of 3.02 in 1975. What we do see is that homicide continues to impact some groups and areas more than others, including Aboriginals, men, and the Prairie Provinces.

[1] The Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo census metropolitan is the Region of Waterloo excluding the Township of Wellesley and the Township of Wilmot

[2] Unless otherwise noted, all statistics are derived from Mulligan, L., Axford, M., and Solecki, A.  (2016).  Homicide in Canada: 2015.  Ottawa: Statistics Canada.  Retrieved on January 16, 2017 from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2016001/article/14668-eng.pdf.

[3] Statistics Canada. (2016). Homicide in Canada: 2015 [fact sheet]. Ottawa: Statistics Canada.  Retrieved on January 25, 2017 from  http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/11-627-m/11-627-m2016008-eng.htm.

[4] Gabor, T.  (2015).  Costs of Crime and Criminal Justice Responses.  Public Safety Canada.  Retrieved on January 16, 2017 from http://www.statcan.gc.ca/pub/85-002-x/2016001/article/14668-eng.pdf, p. 6.

Author: Daniel is an MSW student with the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council working on various research projects and community engagement initiatives.  Daniel holds a doctorate in philosophy from the University of Toronto, where he taught for six years.  He now runs a mediation and psychotherapy practice in downtown Kitchener while completing a master of social work degree at Wilfrid Laurier University.

By the numbers: Hate crimes in Waterloo Region

Posted on: August 29th, 2014 By: Anthony Piscitelli

In 2009, the Kitchener-Cambridge-Waterloo census metropolitan area (CMA) had the highest hate crime rate in Canada, according to police reported statistics. Did you catch the end of that sentence? “…..according to police reported statistics”. It might seem insignificant, but it might be the key to understanding why the 2009 hate crime rate in Waterloo Region is so high compared to other CMAs in Canada.

A criminal offence against a person or property is considered a hate crime when there is evidence that the offence was motivated by hate, based on the victim’s: race, ethnic origin, language, colour, religion, sex, age, mental or physical disability, sexual orientation, or other similar factors. In 2009, in Waterloo Region, Police identified 93 crimes that fit this definition. While the number doesn’t tell us the nature of these reported hate crimes, these 93 situations represent the number of crimes that came to the attention of police that were classified as hate crimes in 2009.

But before we jump to conclusions about Waterloo Region being a hot bed of hate and discrimination, we might want to take a look at other cities and regions. St. John’s, Saint John, Barrie and Thunder Bay reported zero hate crimes incidents in 2009 and Saguenay, Trois-Rivieres and Greater Sudbury reported one hate crime incident each. When it comes to any urban centre, we can be reasonably confident that zero or one hate crime per year might have more to say about what comes to the attention of police and how it is classified than reality.

What we might conclude from the Census Metropolitan report in 2009 is that the reporting approaches are at this time too diverse to portray an accurate cross city picture. Comparisons between jurisdictions require similar reporting standards and such consistency did not exist in 2009. Thus, higher numbers might point to a more rigorous reporting and/or greater community attention to an issue.

By just looking at the numbers alone, Kitchener-Waterloo was put on one of eight worst places in Canada to move to for immigrants. This use of data without context was easy to share as a quick sound bite, but provided a woefully inaccurate picture of the community.

But the report is not fully useless by any stretch of the imagination. What we can and should do is use the data to compare hate crime rates over time. Such comparison works on the assumption that Waterloo Regional Police Service are more or less consistent in how they define and report hate crimes from year to year. On that basis Waterloo Region saw a steady decline in hate crimes from 93 in 2009, to 55 in 2010, to 41 in 2011 and 30 in 2012. That is a promising emerging trend. There is a BUT…

One hate crime is simply one hate crime too many. Crime prevention and the creation of a peaceful (read “inclusive”) society are intimately linked. And there can be no peace without inclusion. Understanding the nature of hate crimes in Waterloo Region should be a critical next step in our shared goal of creating a community that is safe for everyone. Armed with information about who the victims of hate crimes are, who has committed the offences, and what trends we observe overall provides us with data that can help us to begin to prevent these crimes.

Hands are for Hope Not Hatred PosterIn 2012, the KW Multicultural Centre, along with numerous community partners developed a series of workshops designed to help community members better understand hate crimes, learn how to recognize potential hate crimes, how to help victims and what to do in the event of witnessing an incident that might be a hate crime. The workshop materials were designed in a way that those who completed it could deliver the workshop to other groups. To date, more than 15 workshops have been conducted in our community with over 250 people taking the training. These and other efforts help to raise awareness about the importance of hate crime prevention.

In an effort to do our part and continue the dialogue and problem solving, the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council recently released a RAP Sheet on Hate Crimes. The RAP sheet contains a number of suggestions on “what you can do” to address and prevent hate crimes. We are also committed to continuing to watch the data and educate ourselves by speaking to those who have lived experiences. Watch this page and our website for information we gather and for what we are learning. Also watch for how you can stay or get involved.

Meanwhile, we are keen to learn what you think! We are especially keen to learn what ideas you have to prevent hate crime before it happens.


Author: Anthony Piscitelli is Supervisor, Planning & Research with the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council. He collaborates on all research efforts published by WRCPC.

By the numbers: Wading through police-reported crime statistics

Posted on: August 12th, 2014 By: Anthony Piscitelli

Statistics Canada released their annual Police-reported crime statistics 2013 report in July (and in French). There is always so much to sift through and interpret. But here’s a beginning summary of the highlights from the Canadian Criminal Justice Association.


The police-reported Crime Severity Index (CSI), which measures the volume and severity of crime, declined 9% in 2013 compared with 2012. This was the 10th consecutive decline in the index. The CSI was 36% lower than 10 years earlier.

The traditional crime rate also declined in 2013 compared with 2012, falling 8%. It continued its long-term downward trend that began in the early 1990s, reaching its lowest level since 1969. Since 1962, the traditional crime rate has measured the volume of crime, but does not take into account the severity of crimes.

Canadian police services reported just over 1.8 million criminal incidents (Criminal Code offences excluding traffic) in 2013, down approximately 132,000 from the previous year.

Most offences were down in 2013. The decline in the CSI was specifically attributable to declines in breaking and entering and robbery. Decreases in some of the less serious but very frequent offences, such as theft of $5,000 or under and mischief, also contributed to the drop in the CSI.

However, some offences were up in 2013. In particular, police services reported more incidents of extortion, child pornography, aggravated sexual assault (level 3), sexual violations against children and identity fraud.

Crime Severity Index down in most provinces and territories

In 2013, most provinces and territories recorded a decrease in their CSI compared with 2012. However, the CSI increased in Yukon (+6%) and Newfoundland and Labrador (+1%).

Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick, Quebec and Manitoba (-12% each) recorded the largest declines among the provinces and territories.

In most provinces, the decline in the CSI was largely due to fewer breaking and entering incidents. However, in British Columbia, robberies were behind the decline in the CSI. In the Northwest Territories, a decrease in homicides resulted in the drop in the CSI, whereas the decline in Nunavut was due to a large decrease in incidents of mischief.

As in previous years, each territory had a higher CSI than any province. Saskatchewan had the highest CSI among the provinces, while Ontario had the lowest.

Crime Severity Index down in almost all census metropolitan areas

For the first time since 1998, the first year for which the CSI was calculated, none of Canada’s census metropolitan areas (CMAs) recorded an increase in its CSI. The CSI was unchanged in Edmonton, while it declined in all other CMAs. The largest decrease compared with 2012 was in Victoria (-17%).

Despite a 7% drop in its CSI, Regina had the highest CSI of any CMA, while Barrie and Guelph had the lowest.

Violent Crime Severity Index continues to decline

The violent CSI fell 10% in 2013 compared with 2012, marking the seventh consecutive decrease.

Canadian police services reported approximately 384,000 violent incidents in 2013, down about 32,000 from the previous year. The decline in the violent CSI was mainly due to a decrease in robberies and, to a lesser extent, fewer assaults with a weapon or causing bodily harm (level 2), common assaults (level 1) and uttering threats.

Police reported 505 homicides in 2013, down 38 from 2012. The homicide rate was 1.44 victims per 100,000 population, the lowest rate since 1966. Police also reported 642 attempted murders in 2013, down 23 from the previous year.

Every province and territory except Newfoundland and Labrador saw a decrease in their violent CSI compared with 2012. Similarly, every CMA saw their violent CSI decline except Trois-Rivières, St. John’s, Brantford and Calgary, which recorded increases.

Increase in police-reported “sexual violations against children”

In 2013, the police reported 4,232 incidents in the “sexual violations against children” category, 279 more than in 2012. This was one of the only violent crime categories to increase in 2013.

The “sexual violations against children” category includes five specific offences under the Criminal Code: luring a child via a computer, sexual exploitation, sexual interference, invitation to sexual touching and making sexually explicit material available to a child. However, this category excludes sexual assaults against children, which are classified with all other sexual assaults, including those against adults.

Of the sexual violations against children, luring a child via a computer showed the greatest increase, rising 30% in 2013, followed by sexual exploitation (+11%). In contrast, invitation to sexual touching decreased 5%.

Non-violent Crime Severity Index is down

Most crimes reported by the police are non-violent. Police reported just over 1.4 million non-violent incidents in 2013, or nearly four crimes in five, of which 1.1 million were property crimes. The non-violent CSI decreased 8% compared with 2012, the 10th consecutive decrease in this index. The non-violent CSI was 40% lower than a decade earlier.

While most non-violent offences declined in 2013, the decrease in the non-violent CSI was mainly due to a large drop in the number of incidents of breaking and entering, theft of $5,000 or under and mischief. However, some offences in the non-violent category rose in 2013, specifically counterfeiting, child pornography and identity fraud.

Almost every province and territory saw their non-violent CSI decline in 2013. The largest decreases were in New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, while the non-violent CSI was stable in Newfoundland and Labrador and increased in Yukon.

Most CMAs also saw a decrease in their non-violent CSI except Edmonton, where the index rose in 2013 as a result of more motor vehicle thefts and theft of $5,000 or under.

Youth Crime Severity Index down for the fourth consecutive year

The youth CSI fell by 16% in 2013 compared with 2012, the fourth consecutive decline. The youth CSI measures the volume and severity of crimes for which an accused aged 12 to 17 was identified.

The decline in the youth CSI was mainly due to fewer youths accused of robbery, breaking and entering or theft of $5,000 or under.

Every province and territory except Yukon saw their youth CSI decline compared with 2012. Among the provinces, Saskatchewan recorded the highest youth CSI, while British Columbia, Ontario and Quebec had the lowest.


With the release of the Statistics Canada report also comes analysis and crituque of the statistics. Here’s a few that we read:

Did you see anything that surprised you in the Statistics Canada report? Encouraged you? Alarmed you?

Between life and death: Responding to drug overdoses in Canada

Posted on: July 14th, 2014 By: Smart on Crime

This article appeared in the July 14, 2014 edition of the Waterloo Region Record. 

What if you could save a life? Just one life. Would you? For almost all of us the answer to these questions is an enthusiastic yes. Without question, regardless of anything, a life, just one life, is worth saving.

But what if saving that person’s life tested your political standpoints around drug use? Would that life still be worth saving? Across this country people are dying from legal and illegal drug use. Reliable statistics on drug overdoses across Canada are difficult to find, but research by the Ontario coroner shows that on average there is an overdose every day in our nation’s capital and 33 people a year die from overdose in Ottawa. Clearly, people who use drugs along with their family and friends, come face to face with death all the time. But what can be done? How can we save people? One answer lies in the way emergency services respond when they receive drug overdose emergency calls.

If you were to witness a heart attack, you would call 9-1-1 without hesitation. You would not think of the repercussions of making that call – someone is having a heart attack and their life needs to be saved. Now try to imagine how this scenario changes: it is not a heart attack, it is a drug overdose. Our research, published in the most recent issue of the Journal of Critical Social Work , shows that people who witness overdoses think very hard about the repercussions of making that call to 9-1-1. Sometimes these repercussions are too great – people will hesitate or not call at all.

Fear of arrest weighs heavily on this life or death decision. People legitimately fear the police showing up, being criminally charged for drug possession, and for mothers, having their children taken away. All of these consequences anxiously whirl around in the panicked mind of a witness. What happens? Over half of the people surveyed do not make the critical 9-1-1 call. Some may try to help the victim themselves, which sadly can have dangerous consequences. Street remedies can often make the situation worse. The longer someone waits for medical assistance the more likely that a life will be lost.

So what can be done? How can we save people? One idea used in Vancouver is to limit police involvement in routine overdose calls. The theory goes, if you don’t send the police there is no reason to fear calling 9-1-1. Unfortunately, this solution won’t work in many parts of Canada. In many cities and most rural communities the police are often the first responder and those in the best position to save an overdose victim’s life. A more feasible, Canada-wide option is Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Laws.  These laws protect overdose victims and someone who calls 9-1-1 from arrest for being under the influence, simple drug possession, and possessing drug paraphernalia. They do not protect people from serious offenses such as trafficking. Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Laws exist in several American states. Preliminary evaluation of Good Samaritan Drug Overdose Laws out of the United States show that 88% of opiate users are aware of the law and are more likely to call 9-1-1.

Making naloxone, also known as Narcan, available in every province without a prescription is also an essential piece of this puzzle. Naloxone can be easily administered and it temporarily counteracts the effects of drug overdose, providing precious time to get the person to the hospital. The Ontario Health Ministry recently introduced naloxone for public distribution and emergency responders watch in amazement as the compound saves lives.

Ultimately if we truly believe that every life is precious, then the answer is policy change. We need to reduce the barriers to calling 9-1-1 during routine drug overdoses by providing limited legal immunity through Good Samaritan Drug Overdoes Laws and we need to work on distributing naloxone across Canada, barrier-free. That life, that one life, would be saved.

If you ever are unfortunate enough to witness a drug overdose the correct course of action is to call 9-1-1, perform CPR if the victim has stopped breathing and administer naloxone if you have access to it.


Author: Kayla Follett is a Master of Social Work graduate, with the Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis Centre. Her research on this topic was conducted during an internship with the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council, and was published in the July 2014 issue of the Journal of Critical Social Work (co-authored by Anthony Piscitelli, Michael Parkinson and Felix Munger).

Best of the blog: Our top 13 of 2013

Posted on: December 31st, 2013 By: Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council

I just love this time of January when you get to take a look back at what’s been accomplished over the past year, ponder what worked well and scratch your head about what emerged that you never expected.

As we turn the page into 2014, I also love the tradition of digging into our blog to find what you, the readers, found most interesting over the last year. With over 45 blog posts in 2013, there was certainly something for everyone. We had 23 different guest bloggers contribute community responses on the root causes of crime as part of the Snapshot in Time: Root Causes of Crime in Waterloo Region. You can find all the posts and community responses in one tidy corner of the blog.

But, our readers are diverse which indicates why our most popular blogs on Smart on Crime ranged from book reviews to casinos and from guest commentary to provincial budget analysis. Here’s the round up of our top 13 posts from 2013.

1. The local impact of youth unemployment/underemploymentguest post by Carol Simpson

“If youth in the labour market cannot find employment, they find it increasingly difficult to become established in the “adult” world.  They have done nothing wrong. They have done what they were told to do and were supposed to do yet cannot find that suitable connection to the workforce. This impacts their confidence and their ability to “fit in”. Many have chosen to give up and have simply walked away from the labour market making it even harder to find their “place” in the world. This results in frustration and anger and they feel neglected.”

2. What we’re reading: Rescuing Policyby Anthony Piscitelli

“How can government solve the complex issues facing society?”

3. Children in care in Waterloo Region: Compounding risk for vulnerable children by Jill Stoddart

“Children living in the care of the child welfare system have a higher likelihood of justice system involvement in comparison to children living with their biological parents”.

4. Excuse me Waterloo Region, your homelessness is showingby Lynn Macaulay

“I feel part of a sector where I join in solidarity with people experiencing homelessness and many community members who together stand up to say – people who are homeless matter.  We collectively are committed to ending homelessness in Waterloo Region. This is a lofty goal, which will take much persistence and hard work, but with the determination and skills of this community, I believe it is possible.”

5. Income of low income families: Root cause of crime in Waterloo Regionby Anthony Piscitelli

Neighbourhoods that are at an economic disadvantage when compared to other areas report higher crime rates. In addition, societies where wealth is concentrated amongst a small group of individuals report higher crime rates.

6. Through the eyes of crime prevention: Ontario 2013 Budget – prepared by Alexadra Kraushaar

A Prosperous & Fair Ontario

7. The day I went to prisonby Andrew Jackson

“Five minutes later I stood at the front of a classroom with 25 women waiting for me to start talking. “Good morning” I said. “Good morning.” came the reply from the women of Grand Valley Institution for Women (GVI).”

8. Knowing other people care: The importance of community to women who have experienced homelessnessby Elizabeth Clarke

“It goes almost without saying that the overarching cause of homelessness is poverty, but not all people who are poor become homeless. Not all people who become homeless stay that way for long.”

9. Waterloo Region’s Catholic Schools: Laying a solid foundation for student successby David DeSantis

“It is no surprise that the length of involvement in schooling significantly impacts participation in criminal activity and the probability of incarceration, as found in Snapshot in Time: Root Causes of Crime in Waterloo Region. In fact, this has been well-known in the education sector for many years – which explains the great lengths to which school boards go in mitigating against this problem.”

10. 7 things we learned from Alan Quarry about social media for social change by Juanita Metzger

“Creating change that lasts happens in relationships, from one person to another, and these days, often facilitated with the power of social media. Here are Alan’s 7 best thoughts on the principles for engaging people in change.”

11. A Snapshot in Time: The Root Causes of Crime in Waterloo Region by Anthony Piscitelli 

“The Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council believes monitoring the root causes of crime can aid the community in addressing crime, victimization and fear of crime through awareness, discussion, leadership and action. Once the root causes are understood more clearly, resources can be applied to areas where the community is doing poorly. A Snapshot in Time: The Root Causes of Crime in Waterloo Region identifies the root causes of crime right here in Waterloo Region and provides a tool to aid local policy makers in targeting interventions to where they are most needed and where they can have the greatest impact.”

12. Poverty in Waterloo Region… Is that REALLY OK with you? by Mary MacKeigan

“The data in the section of Root Causes of Crime in Waterloo Region titled Income of Low Income Families is no surprise to those of us who are familiar with poverty-related issues in our regional community. In fact, in Waterloo Region, 36 earners make more than $2.57M; 360 make more than $685K; 3,610 (the top 1%) make more than $396K. Individuals who make more than $81,200 are in the top 10%. On the other hand, the median income of the bottom 50% is $14,100!* In 2007, one third of employed individuals were earning $14.00/hour or less. This is poor – it may not be deep (or absolute) poverty, but it is precariously close to it. “

13. What are the odds? The vulnerable child of today as the problem gambler of tomorrow by Chris Sadeler

“The official position statement of the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council given at a public consultation on the question of a casino in  the City of Kitchener. The remarks were given by WRCPC Executive Director, Christiane Sadeler on behalf of the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council.”

So many great reads from 2013. But if you’re in the mood for something to watch, rather than read, might I suggest our personal favourite, “Won’t you be my neighbour?” Who can resist Anthony Piscitelli’s homage to Mr. Rogers!

We look forward to bringing more great smart on crime blogs for you to ponder. Better yet, we love hearing your comments, reactions and responses to the posts and guest commentaries. We look forward to hearing more from you in 2014!

Is it ever too early? Early childhood development indicators as an early warning

Posted on: September 10th, 2013 By: Anthony Piscitelli

You might have noticed it in the title… the operative word being “early”. Every three years Senior Kindergarten teachers evaluate their students using the Early Development Instrument. This tool provides scores on a number of factors, two of which directly relate to crime prevention. Social competence measures a child’s interactions with others, ability to control their own behaviour, and cooperation with others. Emotional maturity measures a child’s ability for impulsivity control, ability to deal with feelings, and empathy for others. The percentage of children scoring low on these indices is noteworthy because antisocial behaviour among children is associated with an increased risk of persistent delinquency and criminal involvement later in life

The Statistics

Graph: Early Childhood Development IndicatorsData Source: Ontario Early Years Centre, A Community Fit for Children Report (Released Every Three Years)

The Story Behind the Numbers

The percentage of children scoring low on the social competence and emotional maturity index declined from 2007 to 2010. However, despite the improvement Waterloo Region did not score as well as Ontario in 2011 which had 9.3% of children score low in social competence. Waterloo Region was also lower than Ontario, at 10.3%, on emotional maturity but this difference was not statistically significant. These numbers suggest that prevention opportunities exist through a focus on improving children’s emotional and social readiness for school.

Read the Community Responses:

Put the focus on early learning, an upstream approach

Posted on: September 10th, 2013 By: Smart on Crime

When reviewing the Snapshot in Time: Root Causes of Crime indicator comparing the 2007 and 2010 results of the ‘social competence’ domain of the Early Development Instrument, Waterloo region shows some improvement. 1.7% less children scored low on ‘social competence’ in 2010 than did three years previous, and this difference is statistically significant. While encouraging, the percentage of children in Waterloo Region who are vulnerable (scored low) on this domain is still 1.2% higher than that of Ontario as a whole. This tells us that we still have room for improvement as well as an opportunity to set a goal to match or do better than the Ontario average in this domain. Since children in Waterloo Region are not scoring significantly different than Ontario as a whole on the ‘emotional maturity’ domain and in fact the percentage scoring low has decreased, we want to continue with this trend. The inclusion of these indicators in understanding crime prevention serves as a reminder that the importance of early learning goes much beyond the reading, writing and arithmetic facets.

Currently, there are many organizations and agencies involved in addressing this issue in the community services sector. Ontario Early Years Centres provide universal, free access to early learning and parenting programs for children age 0-6 and their caregivers. Early Development Instrument data is used in program planning to help ensure that programs encompass the most current needs of the children and that programming brought into other sites across our communities are geared to address the areas of child development that need improvement. Operating as a “hub”, Ontario Early Years also connects families with other resources in the community that can provide services related to the early development of children, including social and emotional development.

Community and Community Health Centres, Neighbourhood Associations, Social Planning Councils, non-profit organizations such as the YMCA and KidsAbility, to name a few, also place great value on early child development as an up-stream approach to preventing negative child outcomes. Beyond the community services sector, local school boards, municipalities and public health units similarly use data on social and emotional development for planning programs and services for families.

Throughout my time working in the community services sector, I have seen how hard agencies work together not only to ensure that we are aware of the importance of early child development, but also to provide services that work towards reducing the number of vulnerable children. Programs that promote and offer early learning opportunities need to be prioritized, implemented and given a chance to prove their value in the long term. It is especially the universal programs which have the most impact.


Photo: Amy RomagnoliAuthor: Amy Romagnoli is the Data Analysis Coordinator at the YMCA Ontario Early Years Centre, working with data related to the developmental health and well-being of young children in Waterloo Region. She holds a Master’s degree in Sociology from Wilfrid Laurier University.

Won’t You Be My Neighbour?

Posted on: September 4th, 2013 By: Anthony Piscitelli

Crime prevention, social capital, neighbourhood cohesion… all the stuff of Jane Jacobs and Mr. Rogers! In this latest episode of “By The Numbers” Anthony Piscitelli pays homage to a certain friendly neighbour in order to give you the highlights of a recent report from the Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council.

You can find the full report here.

What do you think…. does your neighbourhood have a high level of social capital? Or do you live in a neighbourhood that has a high fear of crime? What does your neighbourhood do to build community and social capital?

I’d love to hear your stories!

The local impact of Youth unemployment/underemployment

Posted on: July 25th, 2013 By: Smart on Crime

If youth in the labour market cannot find employment, they find it increasingly difficult to become established in the “adult” world.  They have done nothing wrong. They have done what they were told to do and were supposed to do yet cannot find that suitable connection to the workforce. This impacts their confidence and their ability to “fit in”. Many have chosen to give up and have simply walked away from the labour market making it even harder to find their “place” in the world. This results in frustration and anger and they feel neglected.

We also tend to forget that even very well educated young people are having a tough time finding suitable employment. Many have studied for degrees or diplomas in subjects which are not directly relevant to the type of work they would like to do or the types of jobs they are applying for. This leads to major under-employment which again impacts that ability to become established. It’s difficult to buy a car or rent an apartment when you have student loans to pay back and are only earning minimum wage.

In one case I am familiar with, a young man in his mid-late 20s was finally offered a job in another city at the level he had studied for however, being in debt, he was unable to move immediately. His parents had to support him for several weeks by paying for hotels or renting vehicles so he could get back and forward to his new job and until he could become established. Had he not been able to access that support, his career would have been placed back in the same old holding pattern as before.

This scenario is being played out in households across Ontario and many young people are simply unable to take that leap due to lack of resources or supports and this will impact the youth unemployment rates for the foreseeable future. We are currently seeing young people in their late 20s to mid 30s recognizing that only by going back to school will they get specific skills that will lead them to a career even though they already have a degree but are working in hospitality or service type jobs. That’s fine if you can afford it but many cannot.

On the positive side, both the federal and provincial governments are keenly aware that well educated, and under-employed, young people are struggling and a number of programs and initiatives are either in the works or currently under consideration to support them. Other recent new funding has also been announced which will provide more employment assistance to young people across the board.

In my day to day work I continue to encourage students, and perhaps more importantly their parents and teachers, to put more emphasis on ensuring that the education path they choose will actually match the opportunities available in the local labour market. It is my hope that emphasizing good planning now may help these young people avoid the under-employment trap in the future.


Author: Carol Simpson is the Executive Director of the Workforce Planning Board of Waterloo Wellington Dufferin. Carol has held that position for the past 12 years. In her role at the Board, Carol likes to think outside the box and look at new and innovative ways in which the community can work together to address workforce development challenges including youth employment. For more on the Workforce Planning Board and youth related activities visit www.workforceplanningboard.com

Read also:

 

Employment: A simple, proactive measure for reducing crime in Waterloo Region

Posted on: July 24th, 2013 By: Waterloo Region Crime Prevention Council

A 2010 report, “People Without Jobs. Jobs Without People”, highlights concerning trends in the Ontario labour market; noting that we will have both a labour and skills storage by 2031. It also highlights the increased levels of unemployment experienced by the province in the wake of the 2008 recession.

But Waterloo Region’s unemployment rate is improving, right? The information presented in “A Snapshot in Time: The Root Causes of Crime in Waterloo Region” indeed shows the improvement we are observing in Waterloo Region’s labour market (p.9). However, the overall unemployment rate masks some concerning trends for specific segments of our workforce. Unemployment for youth, new Canadians, displaced manufacturing workers, and older workers has remained high despite the overall improvement in local economic conditions.

These structural changes present real challenges to the economic and social challenges our community will face over the next twenty years, including:

  • Youth that experience delays in starting careers, and the associated reduction in potential lifetime earnings. As well as the pressure many employers will face when there are insufficient qualified people to fill roles as baby boomers retire.
  • New Canadians that migrate to Ontario with professional educations and experiences, who are unable to find work commensurate with their qualifications. As well as employers that cannot access the diverse skilled labour needed to make their businesses globally competitive.
  • Displaced manufacturing workers that have not been afforded the continuous learning opportunities in previous jobs and find their skills out-of-date. As well as employers that cannot access their maturity, experience, and transferable skills.
  • Experienced Workers (those who are 55+) that find themselves without the skills to compete with a new highly educated workforce and find retirement savings in jeopardy, as well as employers that lose access to candidates that still have ten years of work left, and maturity and skill to mentor the next generation of worker.

As can be seen, these structural changes present potential long term impacts on our local economy and social support structures. With these new challenges come the potential to see increased: poverty, mental health challenges, heath impacts, and as outlined in “The Root Causes of Crime in Waterloo” – an increase in crime.

While these challenges can seem overwhelming, there are many local organizations implementing innovative ways of addressing these employment challenges. The following programs are examples of the specific programs Lutherwood has been working with in Waterloo Region and Guelph:

  • Transitioning In New Times: Funded by the Ontario Trillium Foundation, Lutherwood has been operating a demand-side focused employment program. The intent of the program is to more effectively bridge the gap between people experiencing increased unemployment and employers struggling to find qualified candidates for open positions. The program develops training to address specific industry needs, and work to support candidates into these roles. The program has seen meaningful success, and there are provincial replication efforts underway.
  • Mentorship for Internationally Trained Professionals: Recently Lutherwood began a Mentorship program for Internally Trained Professionals in the Guelph area, a similar program is run by the YMCA in Waterloo Region. The intent of the program is to connect professional newcomers with mentors in their field of expertise, giving them connection to establish themselves in careers commensurate with their education and experience. A recent Maytree Foundation report shows that mentorship significantly increases entry into professional careers for new comers.
  • Targeted Initiative for Older Workers (TIOW): Through this program for experienced workers (those that are older than 55) individuals get employment skill development, skills upgrading, employment coaching, and structured work placements. Through this targeted program these workers are able to upgrade and refresh bring valuable experience, maturity, and skill to employers.

While each of these programs takes a different approach to addressing persistent unemployment in our community, one thing is constant; the intervention is scoped to the needs of the population being served. This approach ensures the effectiveness of the program to address specific needs. Over the next several years it will be important that we continue to seek new approaches to address unemployment being experienced by youth, experienced workers, new Canadians, and those displaced from the manufacturing sector. These approaches should be targeted to the populations being served, should engage each level of government and most importantly engage area employers.


Author: Aaron Stauch is a Program Manager at Lutherwood with experience in both the employment and mental health sectors.

Read also: