Manitoba government reveals expansive bail-reform, community safety plan

Manitoba is hoping a new five-point plan to strengthen its bail system will help keep communities safe and target the perception of a “revolving door” justice system in the province.

Premier Wab Kinew, alongside justice minister Matt Wiebe and other provincial and municipal representatives, including Winnipeg mayor Scott Gillingham, announced the plan Thursday.

“Manitobans in every part of our province deserve to feel safe in their community,” said Kinew in a statement.

“We know when repeat offenders are released back onto our streets, it impacts not just the victims of a crime, but everyone in the community. We also know that serious offenders on bail are more likely to reoffend without the support they need to make better choices.”

Among the items in the plan is funding, to the tune of $3 million, for more Winnipeg Police Service officers, to focus primarily on repeat and dangerous offenders, in cooperation with the Manitoba integrated violent offender apprehension unit.

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Click to play video: 'Manitoba justice minister unveils plans for improved offender supervision and services'

Manitoba justice minister unveils plans for improved offender supervision and services

The province also plans to bolster Crown bail policies by giving Crown attorneys the ability to consider the impacts of bail on victims and the wider community, with a particular focus on chronic, violent offenders and those accused of intimate partner violence.

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A further $514,000 is earmarked for data and intelligence reporting, to expand the province’s ability to provide details about offenders that can help inform other jurisdictions and policing agencies, as well as impact decision-making at both the provincial and federal levels.

Additionally, the province is spending $500,000 on an enhanced community monitoring and supervision program, which will help supervise chronic offenders and give them the mental health and substance-use supports they need.

A public safety summit is also slated for the spring.

Bobby Baker, prairie director of the National Police Federation, said his organization supports the government making these moves on an issue that has repeatedly made headlines in recent year.

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“Repeat and chronic offenders put the safety of the public at risk, while at the same time putting a strain on valuable police resources,” Baker said.

“Today, the province is demonstrating their commitment to an effective and reformed bail system by modernizing and investing in this critical area of public safety.”

Click to play video: '‘Common sense’: Winnipeg advocate reflects on Ottawa’s push for bail reform'

‘Common sense’: Winnipeg advocate reflects on Ottawa’s push for bail reform

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