Update on CoSA funding

Susan Love is the CoSA Program Co-ordinator in Ottawa. The following text was circulated through the Smart Justice Network and reprinted with Susan’s permission in order to provide an update on funding to Circles of Support and Accountability (CoSA)

As many of you have heard, on February 21st CoSA sites across Canada were informed by Correctional Services Canada (CSC) that contracts would not be renewed after March 2014. After a vigorous letter campaign by CoSA providers and many supporters like you, to key stakeholders, in particular, Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney, CSC reversed their decision and contracts are now being drawn up for the new fiscal year. CSC was providing $650,000/yr spread across all CoSA sites in Canada – this is the amount they have agreed to reinstate. For us in Ottawa, this represents $12,000/yr. The funds from CSC, together with the 5 year funding 16 CoSA sites have been receiving from the National Crime Prevention Centre (NCPC), total $2.2M/yr. The NCPC funding concludes on September 30, 2014, with no option for renewal.

The funds from both CSC and NCPC have allowed CoSA sites to operate at capacity – including: hiring at least one full time and one part time staff and rent office space. This has allowed us to maximize the number of core members (former offenders) we can work with.

Although we are very pleased that CSC has agreed to reinstate their funding to us, we are concerned that with the loss of the NCPC funds, which represents approximately 80% of our budget at CoSA-Ottawa, we will be forced to reduce our operations considerably, directly affecting the number of core members we can safely manage. Although we have been vigorously seeking alternate sources of revenue, fundraising over $15,000 this year, we have found that our mandate does not align with the priorities of most private funding organizations. If you have any suggestions of possible funding sources, or would like to discuss this, we would love to hear from you.

Thank you so much for your support, concern and advocacy during this difficult time,
Susan Love
CoSA Program Coordinator

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Open letter re: funding cuts to CoSA

Circles of Support and Accountability (C0SA) is an internationally acclaimed program that helps prevent high-risk sex offenders from reoffending. Operating on the strength of 700 volunteers, this Canada-wide program currently supports over 150 sex offenders.

But Public Safety Canada has announced that it will cut close to 20% of CoSA’s funding (a loss of $656,000) as of the end of this month. In September, the program will lose even more of its funding.

Although results of an extensive evaluation won’t be available until September, existing research suggests that sexual recidivism rates for men who participate in CoSA are 80% lower compared to men who do not participate.

The following is an open letter to the Minister of Public Safety, the Hon. Steve Blaney

Honourable Steve Blaney
Minister of Public Safety
House of Commons
Ottawa, ON K1A 0A6

Dear Honourable Blaney,

I am writing to you to express my concern over the termination of funding to the Circles of Support and Accountability (C0SA), a program with a proven track record of helping high-risk sex offenders and lowering recidivism rates.

CoSA is internationally acclaimed for its success. It has projects across Canada and currently supports over 150 sex offenders. Because so much of the work is done by  teams of committed volunteers, this program operates on an annual budget of only $2.2 million.

It is incomprehensible to me why the Department of Public Safety removes funding from such a successful, cost-effective operation. The government claims to want to protect Canadians and keep our streets safe. Yet you are taking away from a program that has been keeping Canadians safer by reducing sexual offences.

Your Department’s National Crime Prevention Centre has invested funds in evaluating the effectiveness of CoSA. The results are expected at the end of this year. Cutting funding to CoSA without waiting for the results of this study is a waste of the tax-payers’ money that funded it.

I respectfully ask that the Department of Public Safety reinstate funding for CoSA immediately and maintain funding until the results of the evaluation from the National Crime Prevention Centre are available. I trust that the evaluation will then demonstrate that CoSA deserves continued funding and support from your Department.

I look forward to your response on this matter.

Respectfully,
Anita Grace

cc: The Honourable Stephen Harper, Prime Minister
Don Head, Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada
Anne Kelly, Senior Deputy Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada
Therese Leblanc, Regional Deputy Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada
Johanne Vallee, Regional Deputy Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada
Lori MacDonald, Regional Deputy Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada
Brenda LePage, Regional Deputy Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada
Peter German, Regional Deputy Commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada
Randall Garrison, NDP Public Safety Critic
Wayne Easter, Liberal Public Safety Critic
Elizabeth May, Leader of the Green Party

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