Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale has convened a summit on gun violence in Canada to find the best way to deal with the growing problems linked to criminal gangs and the illegal drug trade.
Last November, Mr. Goodale announced $328-million in new funding over five years as part of efforts to reduce gun crime across Canada, with the federal contribution growing to $100-million a year in following years.
Scheduled for March 7 in Ottawa, the Criminal Guns and Gangs Summit will aim to get all levels of government to agree on priorities for dealing with growing rates of violence involving firearms and organized crime.
"The government of Canada [is supplying] funding, through the provinces, to police forces for the community-specific activities that they would want to undertake to better combat guns and gangs, and you can probably add drugs into the equation as well," Mr. Goodale told reporters on Monday.
"We want to have the benefit of the advice from police forces not just talking to us, but talking to each other across the country, as well as the provinces, academics, experts and so forth to share the best ideas, best practices for how this funding can be utilized," he added.
Public Safety has yet to release a list of people and organizations attending the summit.
According to the federal government, there were 2,465 criminal firearms violations in 2016, up 30 per cent since 2013. Meanwhile, from 2012 to 2016, offences that are frequently linked to organized crime have also gone up significantly, such as human trafficking (more than 300 per cent) and extortion (74 per cent), Public Safety Canada said.
Cities across Canada are struggling to contain gang violence.
In January, a 15-year-old died in Vancouver after his parent's vehicle was hit by a bullet in a gang-related shooting. Shortly after, Vancouver police chief Adam Palmer said the city was dealing with a clear "uptick" in gang violence.
"This cycle that we're going through right now is significant," Chief Palmer said. "We're not immune from violence and we do have several groups that are hunting one another down and killing each other. It all revolves around drugs."
In Ottawa, shootings are steadily increasing, from 46 in 2015 to 74 last year. There have already been more than one dozen shootings in Ottawa this year.
"The foundation is around drug trafficking. Whether it's marijuana, whether it's opioids, it is generally related to an increasing trafficking in drugs and the competitive nature of that business," Ottawa police chief Charles Bordeleau said at a news conference.
Mr. Goodale said one priority to be discussed at next week's summit will be finding ways to reintegrate gang members in society.
"When you're dealing with established gangs, how do you make it more likely for people to be able to disengage, to get out of that lifestyle into a more healthy pattern," he said.