New crime laws may hold hidden costs

Enforcing new federal crime laws may cost B.C. taxpayers.

Flexing its majority muscle, the Tory government has delivered the get-tough crime bill promised in the last federal election.

But when those laws will be enforced — and at what cost to B.C. taxpayers — will be the subject of complex negotiations between federal and provincial officials.

Chilliwack-Fraser Canyon MP Mark Strahl said he hopes the effect of the stronger laws, especially those that better protect children from sexual predators and that end the practice of house arrest for serious crimes, will be seen “immediately” in B.C. courts.

“The measures contained in this legislation crack down on those who exploit children, traffic in illegal drugs and commit acts of violence and terror,” he said. “This bill will keep dangerous offenders off our streets and make our communities safer.”

But NDP Leader Adrian Dix, speaking after a Rotary Club lunch in Chilliwack, said the BC Liberals had not taken into account in the recent budget the costs of implementing the federal crime legislation.

“There’s no question the cost will be in the hundreds of millions of dollars,” he said.

“What’s problematic here is the vast increase in mandatory minimum sentences under two years, which will lead frankly to huge costs in our justice system,” he said.

The federal government is responsible for inmates jailed for over two years.

Dix said the federal government “needs to step up and pay” for the increased provincial costs.

“We need to ensure especially that violence is dealt with in our society … but it’s not good enough to just pass a law and talk tough on crime,” he said.

Mandatory minimum sentences for possession of small amounts of marijuana, he added, “are going to clog our justice system” which is already seeing backlogs that result in judicial stays of charges against convicted criminals.

B.C. Attorney-General Shirley Bond said in an email to The Progress that the provincial government supports the federal government’s commitment to tackling crime and improving public safety.

But she said B.C. has “led the discussions on the need for the federal government to consult with us on proclamation dates.”

“B.C. has also expressed its concerns about potential costs, and we have agreed to work constructively with the federal government to ensure that implementation occurs over a sufficient amount of time,” she said.

“With respect to costs and overall impacts to the system, this is complex and challenging to calculate,” she continued. “The factors that need to be considered, and are subject to fluctuation, include crime rates at any given time, the availability of police, daily inmate counts, and client counts, for instance.”

But she said B.C. is “probably better positioned than most provinces to accommodate” the new legislation because the province is in the midst of a $185-million capital expansion — “the largest in BC Corrections’ history.”

“Over the next two years, it will add 340 cells across the province to hold more than 600 offenders,” she said.

The Quebec provincial government has vowed it will do everything in it can to limit implementation of the new legislation because of the anticipated costs.

Just Posted

‘Police are ready’ for legal pot, say Canadian chiefs

But Canadians won’t see major policing changes as pot becomes legal

Quick action by Silver Creek ESSO staff Sunday night prevented electrical fire from spreading

Fire chief Tom DeSorcy says the public can also help prevent gas station fires from spreading

On Oct. 19, gospel musician, Rob Berg, hosts first concert in Chilliwack in 25 years

Held at the Sardis Community Church, the concert celebrates his career and new album release

The Fraser Valley Comedy Festival hosts its first annual 10-day festival

With low-cost shows featuring top comics, the FVC Festival is sure to tickle your funny bone

Twelve of thirteen council hopefuls face off at all candidates meeting

Candidates talk business, infrastructure and attendance at Oct. 3 meeting

Naked man jumping into Toronto shark tank a ‘premeditated’ stunt: official

The man swam in a tank at Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada

Trump: Saudi king ‘firmly denies’ any role in Khashoggi mystery

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is travelling to the Middle East to learn more about the fate of the Saudi national

Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen dies at 65

Allen died in Seattle from complications of non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

Transport Canada to take new look at rules, research on school bus seatbelts

Canada doesn’t currently require seatbelts on school buses

Sockeye run in Shuswap expected to be close to 2014 numbers

Salute to the Sockeye on Adams River continues until Sunday, Oct. 21 at 4 p.m.

Michelle Mungall’s baby first in B.C. legislature chamber

B.C. energy minister praises support of staff, fellow MLAs

B.C. man who abducted and assaulted 11-year-old girl has parole rules tightened

Brian Abrosimo made ‘inappropriate and sexualized’ comments to female staff

Canucks: Pettersson in concussion protocol, Beagle out with broken forearm

Head coach Travis Green called the hit ‘a dirty play’

Most Read