The Parliamentary Budget Office today released its report showing that just one legislative change by the federal Conservatives – the Truth in Sentencing Act, which came into effect on February 23 – will double the costs of correctional services in this country over the next five years, from $4.4 billion to $9.5 billion. Most of these costs will be borne by provincial governments.
This is the estimated budgetary impact of just one piece of the Conservative “tough on crime” agenda, which saw the introduction of 13 bills proposing ways to amend the Criminal Code and other crime-related acts in the last session. They are all holdovers from the previous session. Remember the Great Recession? The Conservatives must have been pre-occupied by an explosion of felony in response to the crisis, because they introduced 15 tough on crime bills from January to December 2009, when they prorogued Parliament again. Only two of them had passed in that legislative session, so they just re-introduced them in the next Parliamentary Session, which only started in mid-March. Some bills were re-introduced in the House and, tellingly, some through the Senate where they are getting closer to a majority with every passing day.
One of these bills is called the Serious Time for the Most Serious Crime Act which, if passed unamended, could land teenagers passing joints in federal penitentiary for a minimum 2 year term – more than the minimum one year for organized drug dealers. No, I’m not kidding on either count, the name or the attitude.
Going into the G20, Canada is both host and leading example of a government dedicated to eliminating deficits, cutting costs and not raising taxes. This holy trinity of objectives will embrace the tough-on-crime agenda at a huge cost for the rest of social spending. Austerity is coming, and it’s going to be tougher on us than it is on crime.
- Ontario Budget: All Quiet on the Revenue Front (May 6th, 2013)
- Absolving our Carbon Sins: the Case of the Pacific Carbon Trust (April 2nd, 2013)
- Austerity through infrastructure Cuts: Budget 2013 (March 22nd, 2013)
- Budget 2013: Time for a real action plan, not another ad campaign (March 19th, 2013)
- The Alternative Federal Budget 2013 – Doing Better, Together (March 13th, 2013)