Fredericton makes tackling crime its new top priority
Minister of Public Security, Kris Austin, wants to get tough on all criminals, big and small.
New Brunswick Public Safety Minister Kris Austin wants to see more police on the streets and build a new jail in the province. Its goal is to fight crime as firmly as possible.
This new priority was reflected in the Conservative government's latest budget, where $29.5 million is spent on increasing the strength of the RCMP in the province.
The government will fund the hiring of 80 additional RCMP officers.
“In this budget, we are making tackling crime a priority.
— Blaine Higgs, Premier of New Brunswick
The government wants to go after petty crimes in particular, which seem to have increased in the province. We need people to feel safe in their backyards when they leave things there, that they will be there in the morning, says Premier Blaine Higgs.
In his closing speech to the budget debate for 2023-34, Blaine Higgs announced the hiring of 80 RCMP officers, 51 of whom will be deployed to rural communities. We need more police visibility in more communities, he explained.
Also, Blaine Higgs talks about an increase 50% of the number of Crown prosecutors, and the formation of a new team focused on organized crime.
New Brunswick Premier Blaine Higgs says tackling crime is a priority of the 2023-2024 budget.
We will lower the crime rate, we will once again be one of the safest provinces in the country, assures Blaine Higgs.
< p class="e-p">And above all, the Conservatives want to make sure that people who have committed a crime serve their prison sentences. Moreover, still refusing to make many details public, the Minister of Public Security reiterated the importance of building a new prison.
Since I have been Minister of Security public, I have toured several areas of this province, I have spoken to residents, and they are very concerned about their safety, says Kris Austin.
We must hold repeat offenders accountable and make our communities safe again, Premier Higgs said.
Both Liberals and Greens argue the government's approach is flawed balance between repression and prevention. The Conservatives are criticized for not making mental health and drug addiction priorities, for example.
New Brunswick Liberal Party Leader Susan Holt says the province should do more to improve mental health care.
“The resources I would like to see increased are mental health resources, and social assistance.
—Susan Holt, Leader of the New Brunswick Liberal Party
Green MP for Kent North, Kevin Arseneau, sees this new top priority of the Blaine Higgs Conservatives as a shift towards a more populist right. I think it's taken on a lot more populist vibes since Mr. Austin came along, it's really the American philosophy, where no matter what the crime someone should be punished and serve time in prison, like it's really okay solve the problem.
Kevin Arseneau, Green MP for Kent North, believes that the approach of the government is akin to a populist political orientation.
A point of view which joins that of the Liberal leader, Susan Holt. An approach from the United States or right-wing politics at the federal level, I don't think will solve the problem, and it will cost us dearly in the future.
“With Kris Austin on board, we really have a firm footing on the ground, and it's like there's just one way to do it. .
— Kevin Arseneau, Green MP for Kent North
Budget 2023-24 provides $3.7 million to reduce inmate recidivism rate . This involves training for prison staff, as well as post-release follow-ups for inmates.
The government is also providing $2.4 million for mental health services offered in Campbellton, as well as $1.7 million for mental health and addictions services in Indigenous communities.
These investments, however, fall significantly short of new funding for increase in the number of police officers.