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Premier Kinew's first budget fails to address crime, puts communities at risk

Premier Kinew's first budget fails to address crime, puts communities at risk
NDP budget fails to address growing crime in the city.

By: Guest Columnist - Kevin Klein

Winnipeg, April 8, 2024 - In a critical blow to public safety efforts across Manitoba, Premier Wab Kinew's inaugural budget has drawn fire for its lacklustre approach to combating crime. The NDP government's token gestures towards security measures pale in comparison to the urgent need for concrete action, leaving communities vulnerable to escalating criminal activity.

While other provinces, notably Alberta under Premier Smith's leadership, are taking decisive steps to bolster law enforcement and protect citizens, Manitoba appears mired in inaction. Premier Kinew's emphasis on Tic Tok and photo opportunities over substantive measures to tackle crime leaves me questioning the government's commitment to public safety.

Alberta's proactive stance, exemplified by proposed legislation allowing ankle bracelets for violent repeat offenders awaiting trial, stands in stark contrast to Manitoba's rhetoric-heavy approach. Premier Smith's commitment to increasing funding for law enforcement and expanding the role of sheriffs reflects a genuine dedication to safeguarding communities.

Kam Blight, president of the Association of Manitoba Municipalities (AMM), expressed grave concerns following the release of the budget, citing the province's inadequate attention to public safety. The AMM's call for multi-year funding agreements underscores the pressing need for sustained investment in crime prevention and law enforcement. Blight told the Winnipeg Sun Tuesday following the budget.

The reluctance to acknowledge and address the reality of crime in Manitoba is a disservice to residents who consistently rank it as a top concern. Despite years of promises from elected officials, downtown Winnipeg remains plagued by crime, deterring residents and visitors alike.

The budget raises questions regarding the allocation of resources, with multiple watch groups vying for funding instead of a unified, empowered approach under the police act. The underutilization of Police Cadets further underscores the government's failure to deploy available resources to tackle crime effectively. Why could we not fund more Police Cadets and deploy them downtown and in units driving through communities, increasing the presence of law enforcement at an affordable cost.

In a misguided move, the budget earmarks resources for a supervised injection site, ignoring growing evidence from other cities that such facilities often exacerbate crime in surrounding neighbourhoods.

As Manitobans grapple with the unsettling reality of rising crime rates, it's clear that Premier Kinew's first budget falls short of instilling confidence in the government's ability to keep communities safe. The time for meaningful action is now, and it's incumbent upon elected officials to prioritize the safety and well-being of all citizens, not just a select few.

How can the Premier expect to entice 1,000 healthcare professionals to our province when concerns about crime deter potential newcomers? The escalating cost of crime for businesses presents a formidable obstacle to growth and expansion. Decision-makers tasked with selecting locations for expansion projects are increasingly factoring in crime rates when making their choices. The Premier must confront the harsh reality of Winnipeg's crime problem and its ripple effects across the province.


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