on 17th May, Mayor John Tory announced the City of Toronto’s funding commitment to sustain and expand hospital-based violence intervention programs (HVIPs) throughout the city, including the BRAVE program (Breaking the Cycle of Violence with Empathy).
Mayor Tory was joined for the announcement at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre by Dr. Avery Nathans of Sunnybrook and Dr. Carolyn Snider, St. Michael’s Hospital.
The City-funded BRAVE program was piloted at Sunnybrook, between October 2020 and April 2022, as part of SafeTO, and proved to be successful in reducing and preventing further victimization of those impacted by violence. The new and innovative program uses a public health and trauma-informed approach that coordinates wraparound services and aims to maintain a continuum of care for victims of violence in hospitals and in communities.
Since October 2020, the program has worked with 79 victims of gun violence and stabbings in hospital. Upon victims’ discharge from hospital, BRAVE social workers have made 425 home visits to them to ensure that support continues and that victims are connected to the most appropriate services in their community.
In 2020, City Council approved $100,000 to pilot the BRAVE program at Sunnybrook. Based on the success of the model, Council has since committed another $250,000 to sustain and expand HVIPs in 2022 and 2023. The investment is part of the more than $12 million commitment that City Council has made to SafeTO: Toronto’s 10-Year Community Safety and Well-Being Plan.
Earlier this year, Council approved the funding to continue and expand HVIPs, with an aim to advance the violence reduction goals of SafeTO. The funding will:
- Maintain the work of the BRAVE Program and improve service coverage and times
- Launch the new Toronto Hospital-based Reducing Injury from Violence Intervention and Evaluation (THRIVE) Program at St. Michael’s Hospital and fund two support workers to establish a continuum of care for victims
- Expand hospital-based violence intervention programs to Scarborough and Etobicoke/York
- Enable the City to work with hospitals to establish a broader network of supports for those impacted by violence
Hospital-based violence intervention programs like BRAVE are proven to help people. While the City has committed to investing in and expanding these programs, funding from the Province of Ontario will be crucial in ensuring their future sustainability and effectiveness for victims of violence. The roots of violence are complex and no one stakeholder can reduce violence alone. Intergovernmental investment into violence reduction, health and mental health supportive services are necessary. The City will continue to engage with provincial and federal partners to highlight the need for increased evidence-based, community-oriented violence reduction approaches.
BRAVE is part of SafeTO: Toronto’s 10-Year Community Safety and Well-Being Plan. SafeTO is the City’s new and bold approach to community safety, which focuses on creating a culture of prevention through collaboration with the community, other orders of government and community safety organizations.
More information is available on the City’s SafeTO: A Community Safety & Well-Being Plan webpage.