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

District of Kent to implement snow fence pilot project

$8,000 project to help prevent hazardous, drifting snow, and more from Kent council

PHOTOS: Harrison warms up to Christmas

The Lions Club hosts holiday event for community

11 years sought for Burnaby man who killed girlfriend with hammer, burned her body

Manslaughter sentencing hearing starts Monday in BC Supreme Court in Chilliwack for Ryan Armstrong

German-born British Columbian warns against a ‘yes’ vote on proportional representation

Agassiz realtor Freddy Marks says PR in his home country shows party elites can never be voted out

Highest earning staff at Fraser-Cascade School District made public

Also board looks into seat belts on school buses, Marv Cope gets road in his memory

Six students arrested, charged in sex assault probe at Toronto all-boys school

The school’s principal, Greg Reeves, described the video of the alleged sexual assault as ‘horrific’

Police looking into two more incidents at private Toronto all-boys’ school

Police and the school have said two of the prior incidents involved an alleged sexual assault

5 to start your day

Body found in Maple Ridge ID’ed as Hells Angel, Japanese ‘rising sun’ flag gone from Langley classroom and more

Bovine tuberculosis found in cow on southern B.C. farm

CFIA said the disease was found during slaughter and they are investigating

Air force getting more planes but has no one to fly them, auditor warns

The report follows several years of criticism over the Trudeau government’s decision not to launch an immediate competition to replace the CF-18s.

B.C.’s Esi Edugyan wins $100K Giller prize for Washington Black

Edugyan won her first Scotiabank Giller Prize in 2011 for Half-Blood Blues

Bolder action needed to reduce child poverty: Campaign 2000 report card

The report calls for the federal government to provide more funding to the provinces, territories and Indigenous communities to expand affordable, quality child care.

Judge bars US from enforcing Trump asylum ban

Protesters accused the migrants of being messy, ungrateful and a danger to Tijuana; complained about how the caravan forced its way into Mexico, calling it an “invasion.”

Ottawa Redblacks defensive back Jonathan Rose suspended for Grey Cup

Rose was flagged for unnecessary roughness and ejected for contacting an official with 37 seconds left in the first half following a sideline melee after a Tiger-Cats reception.

Most Read