Ottawa to lack of money to secure places of worship

Photo: Francis Vachon, The Duty
Requests for assistance have exploded after the bombing at the mosque of Quebec.

Overwhelmed by requests since the attack on the grand mosque of Quebec, the federal program for securing the organizations and places of worship of the country has broken through its annual budget. The Duty has learned that, in recent months, Ottawa has not been able to respond to nearly a hundred applications for financial assistance to install security systems (locks, cameras, etc), lack of money.

 

Already, for 2017-2018, the first call for projects, from 1 December 2016 to 31 January 2017 — extended until 31 march following the shooting of the islamic cultural Centre of Québec, had set the tone : 246 funding requests have been received for the Program of projects financing infrastructure security (is IMPORTANT) to communities at risk, of which 75 % were filed after the tragic events. “There has been a mosque in Quebec,” underlined Antoine Bourdages, Program director of community safety at public Safety Canada.

 

If the grant applications to secure mosques were the most numerous (51% of applications), other community centers, schools or places of worship — synagogues, for example — have also wanted to take advantage of this financial assistance. “The wave was felt all across Canada, Quebec, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver or Newfoundland and Labrador,” he added.

 

In Sherbrooke, the islamic cultural Association of Estrie (ACIE) has also filed an application for financial assistance shortly after the attacks on the grand mosque of Quebec. Its then president, Mohamed Golli, had never heard of the IMPORTANT earlier, but the mosque has already suffered from vandalism, he didn’t want to skimp on safety. “We have requested a grant for security cameras and doors with an access code. We changed the locks also. And we are going to have a fence that will join the urban landscape, ” he explained.

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More than 2 million granted

 

On the 246 records of the first cohort, “a fortnight” does not qualify, and 70 were selected because they had the best score according to an assessment instrument standardized. The approximately 150 other claims have been denied — there was more money for them — and have been invited to apply for the second call for tenders, from 1 June to 31 July. And of the 70 projects selected, only 62 projects have been funded to date, for a total of 2.25 million, the other 8 files are still in treatment. “Actually, when we are going to have signed 70 agreements, we will be above $ 2 million [in the budget], confirmed Mr. Bourdages. But I can’t even tell you how much this first cohort will be worth. “

 

Then, if there is already more money, how to finance the requests filed during the second rfp this summer ? “We’re going to have to have internal discussions to find additional funds to finance this cohort,” said Mr. Bourdages. The office of the minister of public Safety of Canada, Ralph Goodale, has confirmed that it was studying the possibility of increasing the budget. “We are studying options to increase the resources available given the great interest expressed in the program “, has the answer.

 

Unprecedented demand

 

A victim of its success, the is IMPORTANT, therefore, is not used to facing such a large request. This amount is more than $ 2 million for the single year 2017-2018 is greater than the total of the grants awarded during the previous three years. The program managers were reminded of the candidates to ask them to provide additional documents, tells the story of Mohamed Golli. “It was necessary that they réajustent and, in the middle of the process, they have requested other documents. Even [the officials] seemed to find it binding, but they had no choice. There had been too many requests. “

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In recent years, the IMPORTANT to has never exceeded its budget, which was then 1 million. The program was without a doubt little-known, but very tedious, believes Mohamed Golli. The nature and quantity of the documents to provide, in short time, have increased the task. “In itself, it is a very good program but it is too regulated. All of these things, it discourages people “, he added.

 

It remains no less that 2 million are not sufficient to meet the needs. “It is really very little. But I understand the government. If they opened the bidding to all beliefs and to all the schools and associations, it is ramasserait with a budget of over a hundred million. “

Distribution of funding to the projects covered in Canada

Fiscal year
Projects
Funding ($)

2014-2015
17
553 656

2015-2016*
1
7544

2016-2017
25
876 669

2017-2018 (to this day)
62**
2 249 469

Total
105
3 687 338

*In 2015-2016, the project approval was delayed due to the federal election.
** In total, 70 projects will receive funding, but 8 are still under treatment.

The IMPORTANT in a few words

What ? Grants to protect communities at risk of hate crimes.

Who is it for ? Private schools, community centers, places of worship, etc

When ? Two calls for proposals : 1 December to 31 January and from 1 June to 31 July.

How much ? 2 million. Projects can receive up to 50 % of the total cost, and, up to a maximum of $100,000.

Where ? Across Canada.
 

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