The Manitoba government is investing more than $2.1 million over three years to expand StreetReach programming in Thompson and enhance the community mobilization hub.
StreetReach is part of Tracia’s Trust, the Manitoba government’s strategy to prevent sexual exploitation of children and youth. The StreetReach program currently includes a Winnipeg team with representatives from child welfare, law enforcement and non-governmental organizations who work together to respond to children and youth at high risk of being violently victimized through the sex trade.
As a first step, the province will be undertaking a community consultation to create partnerships for a Thompson-specific model. The new program will also integrate existing mobile crisis and addictions programs, and include mental health, addictions and spiritual/elder supports.
The funding to community groups to establish this new program in Thompson will include one-time costs of $124,000, as well as $225,000 this year and $900,000 in each of the next two years. This builds on one-time funding provided in February 2019 to StreetReach and the Thompson RCMP through the Criminal Property Forfeiture Fund – Proceeds of Crime for a joint initiative called Project Deliver Home.
Between February and October 2019, the joint efforts of the project were successful at engaging and building relationships with 185 youth, checked 27 addresses to locate missing youth, returned 56 youth to a place of safety, made four arrests and located one intoxicated youth who was returned to a place of safety.
“Thompson consistently has one of the highest numbers of reported missing youths in the province. The RCMP’s partnership with the StreetReach program allows us to work collaboratively, so we can identify at-risk and vulnerable youth, locate them quickly, and ensure they are returned to safety,” said Supt. Kevin Lewis, officer in charge of RCMP Manitoba North District.
The province is also investing $55,000 to enhance the community mobilization hub in Thompson.
“The expansion of the community mobilization hub in Thompson will also enhance access to services for people across the community,” said Cullen. “Together, these services will increase protection and safety for sexually exploited youth in northern Manitoba and reduce the likelihood of them moving or being trafficked to Winnipeg.”
Community mobilization hubs connect social service professionals and community agencies with at-risk youth and families to ensure they are receiving appropriate and timely supports and interventions. Manitoba’s Policing and Public Safety Strategy, announced in May 2019, identifies community mobilization as an effective way to build local partnerships, prevent crime and help keep at-risk individuals out of the criminal justice system.