P.E.I. Justice Minister concerned over federal crime bill costs

Teresa Wright
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Justice Minister Alan McIsaac


P.E.I. Justice Minister Alan McIsaac says he is very concerned about the federal government’s proposed tough-on-crime bill and the millions in new costs it would mean for the Island’s already bursting correctional facilities. 

The Harper government’s omnibus crime bill proposes major changes to several laws, including adding mandatory sentences for a number of offenses and new measures to deal with young offenders. It also creates new offences in the Criminal Code.

These new, tougher measures would mean more jail time for many offenders, and that will mean more beds and staffing at correctional facilities will be necessary.

But P.E.I.’s jails are already bursting at the seams. In fact, tenders went out Thursday on a $350,000 expansion at the youth correctional centre to make room for low-risk adult female inmates.

Due to jail overcrowding, these kinds of measures have become necessary.

That’s why McIsaac says he is very concerned about federal measures that would add further strain on P.E.I.’s already over-taxed correctional system.

“If the legislation goes through as it’s proposed, and it looks like it will, there are significant costs that the province will have to bear and we don’t have money for that in the budget,” he said.

“Our jails are full at the present time. We’re even doing the expansion right now at the youth centre for overflow.”

Changes made to the Criminal Code last year have led to a dramatic increase in the number of bed-stays in P.E.I. jails. Bed-stays are up 30 per cent over last year.

“If we put the new regulations in beside last years, what’s going to happen?” McIsaac asked.

He was adamant the federal government should have to foot the bill for any costs that would come from the omnibus crime bill.

Ontario, Quebec and Newfoundland are among several provinces also voicing concerns about the court and jail costs of the Conservatives’ new justice laws.

Premier Robert Ghiz has been in talks with the other Atlantic provinces and the federal government, discussing the challenges Bill C-10 would bring to local governments.

But in the end, it will come down to the provinces demanding the feds foot the bill, McIsaac said.

“We’re going to need federal support,” he said.

“It’s not in our budget, we don’t have enough money for capital operations, for expansion, for anything.”

McIsaac wasn’t only critical of the price tag the tougher crime measures would mean for the Island. He also questioned the effectiveness of locking more offenders up for longer periods.

“It doesn’t prove that it works, locking these people up. We hear from the (United) States, and it doesn’t work for them, so why is it going to work here?”

The omnibus crime bill, officially named The Safe Streets and Communities Act, combines nine pieces of legislation the Conservatives failed to pass under the former minority government.

The Conservatives' election platform promised to pass Bill C-10 within 100 sitting days of Parliament.



Organizations: Conservatives

Geographic location: P.E.I., Ontario, Quebec Newfoundland

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Recent comments

  • Ashley Johnston
    November 07, 2011 - 13:36

    If the feds continue to show they are crazy, I assume this puts secession back on the table.

  • Concerned Employer
    November 04, 2011 - 08:39

    If we start "Properly" penalizing people for what they do, maybe they won't do it again. How many times have we heard "So & So" was fired for theft etc etc. CRIME = TIME First of all, adults need to lead by example and when they steal from their employer and get caught, throw the book at them. Screw house arrest and then a job at Holland College. If kids see others paying a price for what they've done, they may think twice about not doing it themselves

    November 04, 2011 - 08:35

    They are PEI criminals and should be jailed by PEI. The other provinces have their own criminals, the only difference is that the other provinces have been putting their convicted criminals in jail all along, A new concept for the PEI Justice system. How dare the Federal Government changing the rules to MAKE PEI put their criminals in Jail. I assume this means less give aways to Lobster Plants, PNP Buddies, and a variety of other useless ways of throwing money away. They are your criminals PEI, Take responsibility for something and stop blaming everyone else for your many problems in Government.

    November 04, 2011 - 08:11

    Our correctional facilities have been allowed to become run down except for the odd reno...our support services and probation services are very good..but you do need proper and professional goals/INSTITUTIONS....there are a lot of people who need incarceration....and abuse probation and court orders......this is an essential service..the politicians don't see it that way because they and a lot of their well heeled supporters do not see the or aRE victimized by he 5 % OF THE POPULATION WHO VICTIMIZE...........DON'T BLAME THE FEDERAL GOVT.....THE PROVINCE IS RESPONSIBILE FOR ALL ASPECTS OF CRIME PREVENTION.

  • Karma
    November 04, 2011 - 07:58

    The minister should be more concerned with lax judges allowing every multiple drunken offender, white collar criminal, domestic abuser, what-have-you, to be serving house arrest, running the roads and reoffending time and time again. As for who pays? We all know in the end it is the Feds that pay on PEI. Pretty stupid to be continually going to war with the Harper government on this or any other issue and then running to Ottawa every time the want more money to fund their election promises. Not smart of the Libs - but then again who said they were?

  • Andrew
    November 04, 2011 - 07:53

    They're happy to get the federal dollars doled out to them, but when they actually have to do something for it everybody who is liberal is sour grapes. Oh and here is the analytical quote of the day..."We hear from the (United) States, and it doesn’t work for them, so why is it going to work here?" People love to talk about what doesn't work in the US when they don't like the direction things are going.

  • Can Only Hope
    November 04, 2011 - 07:25

    I hope impaired driving is among them "bill proposes major changes to several laws, including adding mandatory sentences for a number of offenses". Impaired driving causing death should be right up there with murder in the 1st. Afterall, if you choose to drink and drive, you are choosing to risk your life and others.

  • country boy
    November 04, 2011 - 06:44

    Let's see. Most of the crimes are comited by people on probation and out on parole. People on probation get probation after probation and while on probation continue their break ins, drug dealings drunk driving etc etc....Yes rehabilitation is important for first time offenders (depending on the crime) But for the others, when they are locked up they can't get into my house, they can't kill anyone on the road by driving drunk, they can't steal from a business. etc etc. There are some people who make crime a way of life. Young people should get locked up and forced to attend educational/vocational classes so while they in a facility they can get skills to prepare them for release. By the way you should see some of the facilities they call jails today. A lot of hard working people can't enjoy those luxuries.

  • vick
    November 04, 2011 - 04:31

    No lets all just let these deadbeats break the laws whenever they want and continue to get a slap on the wrist......, I for one think its money well spent and sending a clear message to these deadbeats that we have laws in this country and if you break the law regardless of what age your doing hard time! We sat around for yrs giving house arrest, weekends, time served etc....and what....they are still deadbeats.............bring back the roose at in on the hill!

  • Peter
    November 04, 2011 - 01:22

    Pretty hard to be upset with someone that wants to be tough on crime ...Tax me a little extra if you want because I really dont care how much it costs , if it keeps criminals off the street

  • dm
    November 03, 2011 - 23:45

    so will they turn the holman grand into a jail too, it already looks like one.

  • cindy richards
    November 03, 2011 - 21:45

    Mr Mc Issac should therefore stand with Quebec, Ontario, and NFLD/Labrador and let Harper know the tax-papers say No, they are fed-up with ineffective government spending!

  • guardianreader
    November 03, 2011 - 21:31

    P.E.I. Justice Minister Alan McIsaac what are you thinking you closed several fish plants you have a Grand hotel you have the facilities several vacant wind farms a bunch schiools hospital you have many bulding to use as jails yahs can hire your friends that will completes the most patranizing goverment since Confederation

  • He should be concerned
    November 03, 2011 - 20:51

    Imagine how full the jails on PEI will be when the Brighton gang goes in for pnp abuse

    • not just brighton
      November 04, 2011 - 07:31

      Lock up the Binns and Ghiz gangs. Polar Foods, PNP, etc. all should meet their maker. Grab the whole bunch of them and throw them in a new prison tent camp on Boughton Island. And most of these guys live in the fancier places like Stratford now. Brighton is not what it once was.