The Right Hon. Stephen Harper, P.C., B.A., M.A.
House of Commons,
November 10, 2011
Dear Mr. Harper,
On behalf of the members of the National Council of Women of Canada (NCWC), I urge you to provide Canadians with a clear understanding of the financial impact attached to each proposed legislative change or policy reform related to the proposed Omnibus Crime Bill C-10.
The introduction of the Bill is of significant concern to members of NCWC particularly as it relates to costs and the lack of clarity on its effectiveness in ensuring public safety.
At its 2011 AGM in Winnipeg, the Council approved a Resolution which called for the postponement of prison expansion until further study of the need, the need for separate facilities for the mentally ill, alternative approaches to sentencing and treatment; and working with the provinces and territories on poverty reduction strategies, and on community programs for support of at-risk families.
The introduction of longer sentences and plans to introduce new laws that will result in a projected increase in costs in the billions of dollars is unnecessary and unconscionable. The estimated increase in costs to the Government of Canada on just one of the bills is projected to be five billion dollars – more than doubling the costs for the corrections system alone. It is calculated that the provinces and territories will bear the brunt of the increase. Estimates provided by the Parliamentary Budget Officer put this figure at between $6 –billion to $10 –billion dollars. Enactment of the Bill is unacceptable without consultation with, and the agreement of, the provinces and territories based on firm projections.
Members of NCWC would rather see their hard-earned tax dollars spent on public housing, child care, pensions, health care, mental health services, public education, and other services that support families. These measures have proven effective in reducing prison populations. Experience in other countries and from credible studies fails to show that increased use of mandatory sentences and building mega prisons leads to safer streets and communities. Reports from United States, for example, indicate that moves to change its system are currently underway. Greater preventive measures and more police on our streets have proven more effective. Further, with crime rates declining, our members fail to see that the measures contained in the Bill will increase their safety. Putting money into a system that has no basis in fact at a time when our economy and our personal financial position are in jeopardy makes no sense.
One might question the logic of imposing a U.S. style prison system on Canadians when the U.S. itself doubts the effectiveness of the model.
The Parliament of Canada, the provinces, and territories; and, of course, Canadians, must have a clear understanding of the costs related to the changes imposed by Bill C-10 and have the assurance that the changes will be more effective in preventing crime and will lead to increased public safety.
Robert Nicholson, Minister of Justice
Nycole Turmel, Leader, New Democratic Party
Jack Harris, Critic for Justice, New Democratic Party
Elizabeth May, Green Party of Canada
Bob Rae, Liberal party of Canada
Maria Mourani, Critic for Environment and Justice, Bloc Quebecois
Irwin Cotler, Critic for Justice and Human Rights, Liberal Party of Canada
Canadian Association of Elizabeth Fry Societies
The National Council of Women of Canada is a federation composed of Local Councils, Provincial Councils, as well as National, Provincial and Local Organizations. Founded in 1893, it was incorporated by an Act of Parliament in 1914 and has been designated by the Government of Canada as being of national historic significance for its role in Canadian women’s history. For more information, consult our web site at www.ncwc.ca or contact our national office at #506, 251 Bank Street, Ottawa, Ontario, K2P 1X3.