Progressive Conservative Party Leader Hugh McFadyen softened his get-tough-on-crime platform Thursday in announcing a government under his leadership would create a $20-million fund to pump more money into community facilities to keep kids out of trouble.

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Progressive Conservative Party Leader Hugh McFadyen softened his get-tough-on-crime platform Thursday in announcing a government under his leadership would create a $20-million fund to pump more money into community facilities to keep kids out of trouble.

McFadyen said the Manitoba Community Investment Fund would be an increase of $5 million per year over current NDP funding and ultimately provide $25 million in new funding for community facilities around the province over a five-year period.

Progressive Conservative Party Leader Hugh McFadyen

TREVOR HAGAN / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Progressive Conservative Party Leader Hugh McFadyen

"We know that the weak approach of the NDP is not working," he said outside the Greendell Park Community Centre in south Winnipeg. "We know that providing alternatives to young people will ultimately pay off."

Earlier in the week, McFadyen said his government would provide more resources for police to crack down on gangs, more Crown attorneys to prosecute fraud and gun crimes and expand the use of electronic monitoring to include repeat sex offenders.

He said the new fund would be easier for community groups to access.

"What we're looking to do is roll existing funds together in order to reduce the amount of red tape and duplication involved in making funding applications," said McFadyen.

He added while the increase in funding may be modest compared to the need, it's the most the Tories can promise at a time when the province's finances are in deficit.

Earlier in the campaign, Liberal Leader Jon Gerrard promised $4.6 million for community centre programming and hiring more recreational directors.

Family Services Minister Gord Mackintosh, a former provincial justice minister, said Thursday the overall Tory plan on crime appears to be a minor tinkering of the NDP's strategy.

Over the past year, the province and city announced almost 40 community clubs will see upgrades under the joint $10-million Building Communities Initiative, above what other funding the provincial government provides through other programs like Neighbourhoods Alive.

Mackintosh said if the PCs were truly concerned about crime, they'd speak out against Ottawa's proposed changes to the Youth Criminal Justice Act, changes that will make it harder to keep young criminals in pretrial custody and raising youths to adult court for serious offences.

bruce.owen@freepress.mb.ca