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Budget 2006 - The Right Choices : Momentum for Growth and Prosperity

March 30, 2006
(Health and Community Services)
(Executive Council)

The Right Choices: Safe and Secure Communities

The Williams government is targeting crime and supporting safe and secure communities throughout Newfoundland and Labrador with new law and order investments, Tom Marshall, Minister of Justice and Attorney General, announced today.

Budget 2006 dedicates $14.8 million to strengthen public safety, sustain violence prevention initiatives, improve access to the justice system, strengthen child protection services and enhance court security.

"The people of this province have a right to feel safe and secure in their communities and this government takes the responsibility of protecting that right very seriously," said Minister Marshall. "These law and order investments will significantly improve police presence in our communities and equip both forces with the right tools to properly enforce the law."

Greater Police Presence
Greater police presence in our communities will serve to impede emerging criminal activity. Budget 2006 invests over $3.1 million to strengthen police presence throughout the province. This includes:

  • $515,500 to hire four new RCMP officers and related operational funding for positions in the Grand Falls-Windsor, Trinity-Conception, Deer Lake and Nain regions;
  • $592,000 to create five RCMP regular member positions and related operational funding, including three highway patrol, with locations to be determined by the RCMP on a priority basis, and two drug awareness officers;
  • $900,000 to fill nine vacant regular member positions throughout the province. The locations will be determined by the RCMP on a priority basis;
  • $970,000 for the creation of eight new constable positions and related operating funding including drug awareness officers in St. John�s, Corner Brook and Labrador West with locations to be determined by the RNC; and,
  • $170,200 for one officer and operational funding to support a new RNC dog unit for Corner Brook.
  • These investments build on the success of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary training program. The first 28 graduates (16 female, 12 male) have been hired and are currently enforcing law in the province. There are currently 26 recruits enrolled in the 2005-06 program and will be hired upon successful completion of the program. Government anticipates another 30 to participate in the program in 2006-07.

    The Williams government will continue to address financial and human resource deficiencies that have resulted from a decade of cutbacks to both of the province's police forces. As well, the recent Auditor General�s report highlighted the need for improved administrative operations at the RNC which would enable more uniformed officers to concentrate on core policing functions. As a result, Budget 2006 provides approximately $6.9 million for the operations of the RNC and RCMP, focused in the following areas:

  • $177,700 for five new administrative/clerical positions in the RNC's Criminal Investigation Division, Strategic Planning Division and Property Room;
  • $166,100 to hire four new RNC civilian dispatchers;
  • $3.4 million to assist the RNC address significant pressures such as on-going salary and operational deficits relative to more complex and time-consuming investigations; one-time equipment purchases and mandatory training. The funding also provides for a new Sexual Assault Nurses in Emergency (SANE) program. This program will provide coordinated, timely, comprehensive and compassionate care to victims of sexual assault. The program will be administered with registered nurses who have advanced education and training in forensic examination of sexual assault victims;
  • $124,300 for two RCMP Operational Communication Centre positions;
  • $60,200 for two RCMP public service positions in Forteau and Mary's Harbour; and
  • $3 million for the RCMP to cover significant operational pressures such as increases in fuel prices, property rentals and maintenance, medical services and mandatory training.
  • Court Security
    To ensure users of the courts continue to feel safe, Budget 2006 builds on last year�s successful expansion of court security to the West Coast, allocating $219,500 for expansion of court security to Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Wabush and Grand Falls-Windsor.

    Child Protection
    In response to the Minister�s Advisory Committee Report on the Child, Youth and Family Services Act, the Williams government will add 55 new positions over the next three years to support child, youth and family services programs in the province. Budget 2006 includes $1.5 million to begin this process. This builds on the investment in social work positions that government has made over the last two years and includes additional staff to support child, youth and family services programs. This mix of staff is required to develop and support assessment, case planning, treatment and residential services for children and youth.

    Government will provide $259,000 in Budget 2006 to enhance the Department of Health and Community Services� capacity to develop and monitor provincial legislation, programs and standards of practice for services to children, youth and families. This investment will support a manager of child, youth and family services, a coordinator to implement training for social workers and a program consultant to focus on children and youth in care, as well as training and evaluation initiatives.

    Access to Justice
    Justice Minister Tom Marshall has consistently said "the best justice system in the world is useless if people cannot access it." The Legal Aid Commission and the Aboriginal Law Project report have suggested a lack of legal aid resources is impeding proper access to the justice system, especially in Labrador. To make improvements to the legal aid system government will invest an additional $1.1 million including the $250,000 identified as part of government�s Poverty Reduction Strategy. This increased funding will enable the commission to hire two lawyers and one administrative support position in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, a lawyer each in St. John�s and Clarenville and an administrative support position in Stephenville

    The Aboriginal Law Project report also identified inefficient translation services as a severe stumbling block in Labrador justice services. Budget 2006 invests $37,600 to hire a senior policy analyst for a period of six months to research and develop a translation interpretation strategy and a cultural training strategy for Labrador.

    Violence Prevention
    Government will strengthen its resolve to make a lasting impact on the incidence of violence in communities with over $1.6 million to support government's new six-year action plan on violence prevention � Taking Action 2012, and transition homes for women.

    A $1.25 million investment will begin the implementation of Taking Action 2012, representing an annual increase of $750,000. The action plan, which was developed from consultations with community groups, focuses on early intervention and prevention activities for women, children, seniors and others who are most at risk of violence. The funding will be directed to the areas of the plan including:

  • Early intervention activities for high risk youth and families to develop healthy relationship skills;
  • Increased funding for organizations including the Newfoundland and Labrador Sexual Assault Crisis and Prevention Centre and the Transition House Association of Newfoundland and Labrador;
  • Public awareness campaigns focusing on elder abuse, violence against women, child abuse and prevention services and supports for those facing violent situations;
  • Violence prevention training and education to front-line service providers such as teachers, health care professionals as well as police and others in the justice system. Investments will also be made to expand the Safe and Caring Schools program; and,
  • Increased support for work at the community level including an increase for the annual budget of each regional coordinating committee and the establishment of four additional regional coordinating committees.
  • To further assist women and their children leaving abusive relationships, government will provide $375,000 in Budget 2006 to support transition homes in Labrador City, Hopedale and St. John�s. This funding will support a 24/7 operation of Hope Haven, allow the Hopedale transition home to expand its operations to 180 days a year, up from the previous 60 days, and to enhance services at Iris Kirby House. Transition houses provide temporary housing in a safe, secure environment. Services include food and other necessities, temporary shelter, support in getting financial, medical and legal assistance, and counseling services.

    "Violence in our communities is unacceptable," said Joan Burke, Minister Responsible for the Status of Women. "This investment will provide unprecedented resources to allow us to take action and address the root causes of violence. The new action plan will guide our work with community partners and enable us to have a dramatic impact on violence against women and those most at risk." Women continue to make up the majority of victims of violence. Ensuring that services and supports exist for women leaving abusive situations remains a focus of the government�s violence prevention program.

    Media contact:
    Billy Hickey, Justice, (709) 729-6985, 691-6390
    Tansy Mundon, Health and Community Services, (709) 729-1377, 685-1741
    Cathy Whelan, Women�s Policy Office, (709) 729-6225

    2006 03 30                                2:25 p.m.

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