Treaty 1 Territory, Homeland of the Red River Métis, Winnipeg, MB -
Manitoba Liberals announced the first planks of their community safety and justice platform today aimed at protecting women and children and reducing crime across the province.
“As a Leader, and as a party, Manitoba Liberals are committed to doing what the NDP and PCs have consistently failed to do: enforce the law, keep streets safe, and ensure that justice is done,” said Dougald Lamont, Leader of the Manitoba Liberal Party and MLA for St Boniface. “We need to rebuild Manitoban’s trust and confidence in our justice system and that starts with standing with the victims of crime. Manitoba Liberals are the only party offering a real choice for real change on justice in Manitoba.”
Under the PC Government, more than half of Manitobans feel less safe than they did three years ago due to a sharp increase in violent and property crime.
Statistics Canada has reported in 2023, Northern Manitoba has one of the highest rural crime rates in all of Canada. Winnipeg continues to have one of the highest urban crime rates across the country. The total crime rate in Winnipeg has risen by more than 25%, the violent crime rate has gone up nearly 20%, and property crimes have increased to over 32% since 2021.
Measures proposed by the Manitoba Liberals today will strengthen the support network of the judicial system by expanding the resources for programs that actively reduce and break cycles of crime.
1: PROTECTING AND SHELTERING WOMEN AND CHILDREN FLEEING DOMESTIC VIOLENCE
Up until 2023, provincial funding for domestic violence shelters for women and children was frozen for 15 years by both PC and NDP Governments alike.
Manitoba Liberals will work with the Manitoba Association of Women’s Shelters to increase funding to:
Expand existing shelter capacity and support services by 20%
Create emergency women’s shelters in Winnipeg, Brandon, and Thompson
We will also work with police to ensure that no-contact and restraining orders are enforced and that police have the resources to enforce them.
2: REDUCING CRIME AND JAIL COSTS BY BREAKING THE CYCLE OF REOFFENSE
Manitoba discharges people serving a sentence of 2 years less a day straight onto the streets with no support and no means to earn an honest living. Many are quickly rearrested and head back to jail, often for longer sentences, where the cycle repeats itself. The driving reason for this is that Manitoba has no halfway houses for provincial offenders to assist them transitioning back into society.
By establishing provincial halfway houses, Manitoba can reduce crime, reduce homelessness and free up police and justice resources. Already, there exists incredibly successful organizations that are focused on supporting people so they never reoffend; like Native Clan, which has been around for more than 50 years working with federal inmates and those involved in the forensic mental health systems, and Clan Mothers, which helps provide mid-to long-term support to women, girls, and two-spirit persons.
Native Clan will receive $5.5-million in capital costs, and an additional $2 million in annual operating costs to establish a provincial halfway house in Winnipeg.
Additionally, we will provide Clan Mothers $2.5-million in order to meet its fundraising target and start construction on a provincial women’s healing village as soon as possible.
“By addressing the needs of relatives who are involved in the provincial justice system, system, we can eliminate the stress and costs of addressing these needs after a relative has progressed to the federal justice system due to unaddressed trauma and lack of supports,” said Kendell Joiner, Chief Executive Pathfinder, Native Clan Organization.
3: FUNDING 50% OF THE COST OF SEARCHING THE PRAIRIE GREEN LANDFILL
Manitoba Liberals commit to funding the search of the Prairie Green Landfill on a 50/50 basis with the Federal Government. The City of Winnipeg is currently in deficit, so the Manitoba Government will bear those costs.
As Manitobans, we should all be united in our shared grief with the families whose loved ones are still missing. For Liberals this is not a political issue, it is a moral principle. We need to stand with the victims of crime.
Lamont said not a single one of the PC Government’s excuses has been valid and they have changed their story several times. The Assembly of Manitoba Chiefs have presented consistent facts and evidence that the search can be done safely, legally, and can succeed. Heather Stefanson’s Government is making this a wedge issue while destroying Manitoban’s trust in the justice system.
When we ask everyone to follow the law, we need to lead by example. All Manitobans need to know their government and the justice system is in place to serve everyone.
“If Manitobans want to understand why they should have confidence in the Manitoba Liberal platform on community safety and justice, we have been willing to take a stand on justice when other parties stood silent,” said Lamont. “After more than 40 years, the only reason Peter Nygard was finally charged in Manitoba was that Manitoba Liberals spoke up alongside survivors and demanded that Peter Nygard’s cases be reviewed outside of the province.”