Last week I was in Ste. Anne in my role as Minister of Justice to announce new police funding for municipal policing agencies across the province. Joining me at the announcement were officials of the Ste. Anne Police service, the Steinbach RCMP, Ste. Anne Deputy Mayor Lyle Davis, Steinbach Mayor Earl Funk and Steinbach Deputy Mayor Michael Zwaagstra.
As part of the announcement, Manitoba Justice is increasing police resources by an additional $13.7 million for municipal police services across the province. This represents an approximately 28% increase in financial support for law enforcement. This is important for several reasons. The primary reason is that police across Manitoba and in fact North America are facing more calls for service and in many areas more violent crime. Providing more resources is only one aspect of responding to the increased pressure on resources, but it is important.
Of course, while all police agencies may be facing an increase in the demand for service, it isn’t the same in every area. The concerns in downtown Winnipeg are different than in Ste. Anne or in Steinbach. That is why the increase in funding is provided in a way that allows flexibility in how the individual municipal officials choose to use it. If street racing or property theft is a greater concern than other crimes, then municipal officials can work with law enforcement to apply the funds in a way to positively impact those concerns.
The other important reason why this increase was necessary is that, like everything it seems, the cost of policing has been increasing as costs such as fuel increase.
This overall increase in funding for municipalities is in addition to the other specific policing initiatives that have been supported by Manitoba Justice. This includes funding for a high-risk offender unit that is operated jointly between the Winnipeg Police Service and the RCMP. As well, last week we announced an enhanced province wide missing persons unit.
On Friday of last week, I was at the Toba Centre for Children and Youth which supports children who have suffered abuse. The nearly completed new Toba Centre, which is on the edge of Assiniboine Park in Winnipeg, will provide an environment for children and youth who have been abused to not only meet with law enforcement to help bring their abusers to justice, but to begin the process of healing as well. In addition to past support, I was pleased to announce $150,000 in funding for technology for the Toba Centre that will assist in helping provide evidence in court cases against child abusers.
Police in today’s world are facing an increasing number of challenges and they are being asked to perform many more tasks beyond what has traditionally been considered front line policing. As a government, we continue to support law enforcement officials in the difficult work that they do and are grateful for their efforts in keeping our communities safe.