The Free Press has written numerous articles in the last few days on the rising cost of corrections, and concerns by the Manitoba Government Employees Union about prison overcrowding. I weighed in with a column pointing out that maybe it was time for the strident law-and-order advocates to figure out a way of paying for the increased costs of longer sentences and new criminal code offences. The provinces claim it will cost them billions of dollars to pay to administer and incarcerate the increased numbers of prison inmates that will accrue from the federal government's omnibus crime bill, expected to become law later this year.
The focus of the MGEU story was on prison overcrowding, but that is, of course, only one part of the total justice portfolio. Policing, court administration and prosecutions all have their own budget lines.
The following is information provided by the Manitoba government on the increases in spending for the four main areas of justice programs:
|COPS (RCMP, WPS, BPS, Dakota Ojibway)||$72,223||$81,789||$86,978||$92,994||$104,273||$112,132||$120,794||$126,601|
The quick analysis shows that total justice spending has gone from $231.1 million to $384.7 million over the period used above. That is a total increase of $153.6 million, or a 66.5 per cent increase. In individual line items, funding for policing went up 75 per cent ($54 million increase), courts by 28 per cent ($11 million), prosecution rose 61.3 per cent ($10 million) and corrections, the current cause celebre, increased by a whopping 76 per cent ($78 million).
Submitted for your consideration and debate.