Rave Radio: Offline (0/0)
Email: Password:
News (Media Awareness Project) - CN ON: Federal Omnibus Crime Bill To Cost Ontario $1 Billion
Title:CN ON: Federal Omnibus Crime Bill To Cost Ontario $1 Billion
Published On:2012-01-23
Source:Toronto Star (CN ON)
Fetched On:2012-01-28 06:03:26

Ottawa is stiffing Ontario with the $1 billion cost of implementing
sweeping crime changes, the provincial government says.

The new federal omnibus crime legislation will add another 1,500
prisoners in the corrections system, force the building of another
prison and put pressure on parole officers, according to the ministry
of community safety and correctional services. Bill C-10 received
third reading in Parliament last month and is now before the Senate.

Prisons are already crowded and operating at 95 per cent capacity
with 8,500 inmates, said Community Safety Minister Madeleine Meilleur.

And the cost of a new prison is about $900 million and operating the
facility would be another $60 million a year, she said, adding
Ontario can't afford to pay for the federal Conservative crime bill.

"Let's be very clear," she told the Star. "My government believes in
community safety and crime prevention. But it is just unacceptable
that Ontarians are expected to bear the costs of federal anti-crime
initiatives. They are tough on crime but aren't willing to pay for
their tough talk."

The omnibus federal crime bill combines nine previous pieces of
legislation into one and some critics say it will make fundamental
changes to the entire justice system. The bill includes tougher
sentences on child sexual predators and introduces mandatory minimum
sentences for some drug crimes.

The changes will create serious pressure in the justice system for
police officers who'll have to spend more time in court, parole
workers and correctional staff, said Meilleur.

Some jails will be so overcrowded they could be operating at nearly
150 per cent capacity and another 1,000 people could be placed on
parole, she said.

But reforming the justice and corrections system, not simply putting
more people in jail longer, is what is needed, she added.

"In Ontario we build schools, we don't build jails," Meilleur said.
"We are in the process of modernizing our system. There are jails we
have in place that were built before Confederation."

If Ottawa wants these changes then they must provide additional
funding to help Ontario pay for the program, she said.

Meilleur said she'll push Public Safety Minister Vic Toews on the
issue this week in Prince Edward Island when federal, provincial and
territorial justice ministers meet.

"We expect Ottawa to do what's right and provide additional funding
to help Ontario deal with the consequences of Bill C-10," she said.

However, the provincial Progressive Conservatives said the $1 billion
figure from Meilleur is more about "bashing Ottawa" than anything else.

"Let's get real," said Ontario PC Leader Tim Hudak. "There's only one
taxpayer. So I suspect this sounds like more language from the
McGuinty Liberals to try to avoid their own problems in reducing
costs and foist them on to somebody else."

Parts of the bill - such as mandatory minimum sentences and getting
rid of community service and rehabilitation programs - affect Ontario
in a substantial way, said NDP MPP Jagmeet Singh.

Ottawa failed to consult properly with Ontario, police chiefs and
Crown attorneys on the legislation, he added.

"The police themselves are indicating this crime bill is
irresponsible and wasn't properly thought out," Singh said. "The
Canadian government should be footing the bill."

With files from Rob Ferguson
Member Comments
No member comments available...