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News (Media Awareness Project) - CN ON: Ontario Slams $1B Tab For Justice Bill
Title:CN ON: Ontario Slams $1B Tab For Justice Bill
Published On:2012-01-24
Source:Ottawa Citizen (CN ON)
Fetched On:2012-01-25 06:02:01

More Federal Money Sought to Implement New Legislation

Ontario taxpayers can't afford the more than $1 billion that new
federal crime legislation will cost the province, Community Safety and
Correctional Minister Madeleine Meilleur said Monday.

In a pointed "you want it, you pay for it" message to the federal
government ahead of a two-day justice ministers meeting in Prince
Edward Island, Meilleur said the Bill C-10 legislation will add a huge
load to an already overburdened provincial justice system.

"We expect Ottawa to do what's right and provide additional funding to
help Ontario to deal with the consequences of Bill C-10," she said.
"It is unacceptable that Ontarians are expected to bear the cost of
federal anti-crime initiatives."

The province estimates that the Conservatives so-called Safe Streets
and Communities Act will add 1,500 inmates to the 8,500 already housed
in provincial jails, many of which are ancient and most of which are
already close to capacity.

Ontario is already building new jails in Windsor and Toronto and
figures another $900 million will be needed to build a facility to
accommodate those caught under new minimum sentencing laws. The jail
would cost around $60 million a year to operate.

The new legislation will also add to the caseload of probation and
parole officers, said Meilleur, and mean police officers spend more
time in court and less on the streets.

All provinces are in a similar financial bind, said Meilleur, who
predicted other provincial ministers will be delivering a similar
message to federal Justice Minister Rob Nicholson when he meets with
the group on Wednesday.

But, she conceded, when Bill C-10 becomes law, provinces will be
forced to implement it - with or without additional federal money.

"If it is the law," she said, "all the provinces will have to
implement it, but let's hope the federal government will be a
reasonable partner in this. One billion dollars is a lot of money for
Ontario ..."

Quebec, which vehemently opposes many aspects of the legislation, has
taken a harder line and stated categorically the province will not pay
to implement the new measures.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper has rejected provincial objections and
claims for more money, insisting that they must all implement the new laws.

And Ontario's prosecutors say they are barely able to cope with their
current caseload and new minimum sentences will make matters worse
because more defendants in "nothing to lose" situations will opt to go
to trial.

The Safe Streets and Communities Act includes nine separate pieces of
legislation but by far the most controversial are new minimum
sentences for marijuana possession and trafficking and changes to the
Youth Criminal Justice Act which will see more young people incarcerated.

Quebec Justice Minister Jean-Marc Fournier calls the new youth law
"soft on crime" because it de-emphasizes rehabilitation and says it
flies in the face of decades of experience, study and statistics.
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