Burnaby-Deer Lake MLA Kathy Corrigan does not want provinces footing the bill for the Tories' omnibus crime legislation.
The nine bills rolled into one cover a variety of anti-crime initiatives, including provisions that allow victims of terrorism to sue perpetrators and mandatory minimum sentences for drug trafficking and sex crimes involving children.
"My concern is that if resources are not put in place as the surge of prisoners enters the system, we are increasing what is already a dangerous and volatile overcrowded system," Corrigan said in the legislature on Monday.
Corrigan, the NDP's solicitor general critic, is raising concerns that the federal crime bill will download hundreds of millions in added costs for local policing, courts and the correctional system onto provincial taxpayers.
"Provinces are responsible for provincial correctional facilities. If someone receives a sentence of less than two years, they are incarcerated in provincial correctional facilities," Corrigan said. "If they receive a sentence of two years or more they serve their time in a federal penitentiary or other facility."
Provinces are also responsible for remand centres, where the accused are held, Corrigan added, and municipalities pay the lion's share of policing.
Corrigan also pointed to preliminary estimates from Kevin Page, Canada's par-liamentary budget officer, that project the crime package will cost the provinces and territories $6 to $10 billion in total over the next five years.
Corrigan called on the B.C. Liberals to secure federal funding to cover the costs of the legislation.
The bill, dubbed the Safe Streets and Communities Act, passed second reading in the House of Commons on Sept. 28. It's now at the committee stage, where witnesses, both for and against the bill, raise their arguments so the legislation can be fine-tuned.
The Tories hold the majority and promised to pass the bill within 100 days of taking office, Corrigan pointed out.
Shirley Bond, B.C.'s attorney general and solicitor general, has staff studying the bill's impact.
"If you're going to look at doing things differently with mandatory sentences, if you're looking at changing the way you deal with certain types of prisoners, all of those things will have potentially a downstream impact on provinces," she said.
The NOW contacted James Moore, Conservative MP for Port MoodyWestwood-Port Coquitlam, but did not hear back before press time.