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Ontario boosting funding in anti-hate grant to combat rise of antisemitism, Islamophobia

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The provincial government is boosting its funding toward an anti-hate grant in an effort to combat what it calls a rise of antisemitism and Islamophobia across Ontario.

On Thursday, the Ontario government said it will be investing an extra $20.5 million this year to the province’s Anti-Hate Security and Prevention Grant. The additional funds will prioritize Jewish and Muslin communities, according to a release, by helping faith-based and cultural organizations carry out measures that will help keep their community spaces safe.

“The rise in antisemitic, Islamophobic and other acts of hate we have seen in recent weeks is completely unacceptable and has no place in Ontario,” Michael Ford, minister of citizenship and multiculturalism, said in a release.

“We stand firm in our support of Ontario’s Muslim and Jewish communities and will continue to work with them, and all faith-based and cultural groups, to ensure their safety.”

The province says community facilities from mosques and synagogues to faith-based schools will receive up to $20,000 to better protect their spaces from hate-motivated incidents, including hateful graffiti or vandalism. The grant funding can be used for a variety of safety measures, like hiring security staff and building repairs.

“Acts of antisemitism, Islamophobia and hate have no place in Ontario and are toxic to our democracy. People of all faiths have the inherent right to feel safe in their communities and their places of worship deserve respect,” Solicitor General Michael Kerzner said.

This new provincial investment builds on top of the $12.5-million already allotted to the grant, with previous recipient’s eligible for a top-up payment. Applicants can apply starting Dec. 14.

RISE IN HATE CRIMES AN 'ALARMING TREND'

Back on Nov. 23, Toronto Police Chief Myron Demkiw called the spike in hate crimes in the city since the onset of the Israel-Hamas war on Oct. 7 an “alarming trend.”

Denkiw said at the time that there 17 incidents of Islamophobic or anti-Palestinan hate crimes between Oct. 7 and Nov. 23 compared to just one during the same period last year, reflecting a 1,600 per cent increase.

Antisemitic crimes jumped by 192 per cent in that same period, accounting for nearly half of all 79 hate crime reports Toronto police received since the start of the war.

There has also been a rise in reported incidents of hate-motivated graffiti, with 280 occurrences that were either Islamophobic or antisemitic since Oct. 7. Compared to the same time last year, Demkiw said there were 21 incidents.

With files from Chris Fox 

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