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October 18, 2006
For immediate release

Ministers Responsible for Justice Consider Cost Implications of Implementing Federal Initiatives

Office of the Attorney General

Hon. Mildred Dover, Attorney General for Prince Edward Island recently returned from a meeting of Federal, Provincial and Territorial (FPT) Ministers responsible for Justice held in Newfoundland and Labrador. The Ministers met to discuss issues currently facing Canada's justice system, including legal aid funding, drug crimes, sentencing, youth justice and organized crime.

Minister Dover was one of the Ministers who raised the need for both greater collaboration and investments to bring about the federal reform initiatives. She joined Provincial and Territorial Ministers in stressing the importance of federal funding for legal aid.

“It is essential that the Government of Canada recognize the need for increased long-term federal funding for criminal legal aid and new funding for civil legal aid,” Minister Dover said upon return from the FPT meetings.

The Legal Aid agreement only extends until March 31, 2007. Funding under this agreement amounts to $500,000 per year. Four other federal cost-sharing agreements are due for renewal. These are as follows:

• The Youth Justice agreement lapsed March 31, 2006. Under that agreement, base funding is $2.1 million per year for PEI.

• The Aboriginal Justice Strategy is a five-year agreement which ends in March 2007. Federal funding of $50,000 for the Mi’kmaq Confederacy Aboriginal Justice Program is cost shared with the province.

• The Justice Partnership and Innovation Fund is a two-year agreement which ends March 2007. Federal funding of $70,000 for Community Legal Information Association is cost shared with the province.

• Federal funding for the Child Centred Family Justice Strategy ends March 2008. This provides $215,000 funding to PEI per year.

The Attorney General said she is optimistic that the governments can work together to address the funding issues. “I look forward to working with our federal partners to renew these cost-sharing agreements,” she added.

Other issues discussed at the FPT meetings included finding ways to reduce the large proportion of inmates who are being held on remand, recommended amendments to improve the administration of the Youth Criminal Justice Act, federal financing of their proposal for 2,500 new police officers in communities across Canada, recommendations from a report on Methamphetamine, and review and reform of disclosure obligations.

Since May 2006, the Government of Canada has been introducing legislation to support their new Stand Up for Security Policy, which is intended to protect Canadians. Minister Dover said she supports the objectives of the federal government's crime and safety initiatives. However, she noted, the cost and operational impact of these changes must be considered and provinces must be assisted with strategies to implement these reforms.

“The cost implications can be significant,” Ms. Dover said. “We will be looking to the federal government to help with additional resources to enable our province to implement the reforms, to collaborate on ways to reduce the cost impact and to coordinate an implementation schedule.”

The FPT meeting of Ministers Responsible for Justice was co-chaired by the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada, Vic Toews, the Minister of Public Safety, Stockwell Day and the Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Newfoundland and Labrador, Tom Marshall.

Media Contact: Connie McNeill
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