Ontario, Canada
Ontario, Canada iStock

The Ontario government has announced a $25 million expenditure to create a fund to help faith-based and cultural organizations improve security and fight hate.

The Ontario Grant to Support Anti-Hate Security Measures for Faith-Based and Cultural Organizations will “provide funds to faith-based and cultural organizations to increase safety and security measures.”

To be eligible, applicants must “host regular gatherings of religious, spiritual or cultural significance. Hosting these gatherings must be a primary activity of the applicant,” the Ontario government said in a statement.

The grant can be used for upgrades related to enhancing security of the building, including equipment, construction, renovations and CCTV systems, as well as for security assessments and training to respond to hate-motivated incidents.

“Despite being one of the most diverse and welcoming places in the world, Ontario is not immune to antisemitism,” Centre for Israel and Jewish Affairs (CIJA) vice president Noah Shack said.

Shack noted that while Jews comprise less than one percent of the Canadian population, Statistics Canada data consistently finds that Jews are the most frequent targets of hate crime.

“The hostage-taking at Congregation Beth Israel in Colleyville, Texas is the latest chilling reminder of the dangerous threat the Jewish community faces,” he said. “Institutions, including synagogues and Jewish community centres, spend millions of dollars on security measures every year so Jewish Ontarians can gather safely.”

He added: “Investments in security planning, infrastructure, and training save lives. The Ontario Grant to Support Anti-Hate Security Measures will rapidly assist an expanded number of organizations to keep their communities safe. We are grateful to Premier [Doug] Ford and Minister Parm Gill for their decisive action and meaningful response to this persistent threat.”

The program will provide up to $10,000 in security and training grants to each eligible institution.

The Ontario government also announced grants to increase Holocaust education and combat antisemitism on January 27, International Holocaust Remembrance Day.