Island concerns related to justice and public safety were well voiced at the recent meeting of federal, provincial and territorial (FPT) ministers says Prince Edward Island’s Minister of Justice and Public Safety, Doug Currie.
“It was a very productive dialogue with a number of high-level issues relevant to Prince Edward Island raised,” said Minister Currie. “Many justice and public safety issues significant to Islanders are also relevant to other Canadians. As a result, there was considerable emphasis on the need for all jurisdictions to work collaboratively, especially on issues related to criminal law reform.”
The provincial cost and other impacts of federal law reform and RCMP contract negotiations were two of the key discussion priorities for Prince Edward Island going into this annual meeting.
“Changes to the Criminal Code of Canada and other federal legislation have a significant impact on our operational costs,” said Minister Currie. “It is essential that the federal government consult with provinces and territories when making legislative amendments that impact us in such a significant way.”
Ministers from jurisdictions, which contract with the RCMP for provincial policing service, discussed the renewal of the 20-year contract which will expire in 2012.
“Prince Edward Island has an active voice at the negotiating table,” said Minister Currie. “We are seeking a modern contractual agreement that is cost effective and will serve the needs of our population over the long term.”
Ministers discussed managing the needs of persons with mental health issues, including Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder, who come in contact with the justice system. Ministers encouraged increased collaboration between the criminal justice and mental health systems. They agreed to a symposium on mental health related to justice issues co-hosted by Justice Canada, Public Safety Canada and the Province of Alberta. The symposium will take place in Calgary, in May 2011.
Ministers stated their position that full and permanent funding is required for the Police Officers Recruitment Fund. In 2008, the federal government delivered a one-time financial allocation of $80 million over five years to assist provinces and territories to recruit additional provincial and municipal police officers. Provincial and territorial ministers want that federal funding to continue.
Ministers released a report on missing and murdered women (available at www.scics.gc.ca). Ministers agreed on the need to strengthen the justice system’s response to these tragic cases and called for additional work on this issue by governments, communities and individuals.
Ministers approved national guidelines for policies on the use of Conducted Energy Weapons (CEWs) and a national research agenda to further advance evidence-based knowledge regarding the testing and use of CEWs.
Ministers also approved a number of recommendations that will improve the efficiency and effectiveness of the justice system.
“It was a tremendous privilege to engage in these important discussions and to meet my federal, provincial and territorial counterparts in person,” said Minister Currie.
This is the first time Minister Currie has attended the annual FPT meetings which took place in Vancouver, October 12-15. These issues will continue to be advanced at the meeting of FPT deputy ministers in January, 2011.
Media Contact: Beth Cullen