Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman and members of the committee. Good afternoon. It's good to be back with you once again to present the supplementary estimates (B) for the Public Safety portfolio, along with the 2019-20 interim estimates.
As this committee is aware, we are in the second year of a two-year pilot test of this vehicle called the interim estimates. That process will help ensure continuous operations for my portfolio, authorizing interim spending beginning April 1 until the main estimates full supply is approved by Parliament in June.
I am very pleased to be joined by the full complement of officials here today representing not only the department, but all of the agencies that are a part of the portfolio, and I welcome their assistance in dealing with the questions from members of the committee.
The men and women of this portfolio perform the Herculean task of keeping our country and our communities safe and secure. They deserve, I believe, our deepest thanks for carrying out a very ambitious public safety agenda over the last number of months and years.
I thank members of this committee for your scrutiny and your advice as that agenda has rolled forward over the last three years. We've introduced transformational changes to Canada's public safety environment, from a new national security framework to a new cannabis regime, a bold new corrections model, practical changes to tackle the problems posed in our communities by guns and gangs, and much more. We still have a lot of work ahead.
The supplementary estimates will help us make needed funding adjustments to tackle the work. Portfolio-wide, total authorities sought in supplementary estimates (B) for 2018-19 would result in a net increase of $24.3 million over the authorities as they exist to date. That represents a 0.2% increase over the total authorities provided through main and supplementary estimates so far this year. That brings us to roughly $10.8 billion in total funding approvals to date for the Public Safety portfolio and all the agencies within it—that is, should these estimates be approved.
There are a few key changes to appropriations that I would like to highlight. One of those is the addition of $9.9 million for the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, which will be used to compensate members for injuries received in the performance of their duties. Every day, these members put their lives on the line to protect our own, and the government must ensure we're there for them as well when they need us.
The funding complements the Government of Canada's memorial grant program for first responders, a new grant program that we introduced last year. I thank the committee for its support of that program when it was presented. The memorial grant program recognizes the service and sacrifice of first responders who die as a direct result of carrying out their duties. Through the memorial grant program, families of first responders—that is, police, firefighters and paramedics, including volunteers, reservists and auxiliary members—who lose a loved one as a direct result of their duties will receive a one-time lump sum tax-free payment of $300,000. That program took effect on April 1, 2018. I am very pleased to say that it's now being implemented across the country in co-operation with the provinces and territories.
You might ask, why would the provinces and territories be involved? It's because some of their social services legislation, under their provincial jurisdiction, has offset or clawback provisions written into it, and the provinces need to give us the assurance that they will not use their provincial legislation in any way to diminish the federal grant. All of the provinces are anxious to collaborate and co-operate in that endeavour. We're going through the necessary steps with each province to make sure that is the case.
I'll also highlight that there is $3.8 million in these estimates that will be transferred to the Communications Security Establishment for the transfer of control and responsibility for the Canadian Cyber Incident Response Centre. That transfer began in October, to become part of the new Canadian cybersecurity centre.
The cyber centre is a key change to our security apparatus in Canada. It brings operational security experts from across the entire Government of Canada under one roof for dealing with cyber issues. In line with the new cybersecurity strategy, the launch of the cybersecurity centre represents a shift to a more unified approach to cybersecurity in the country. I know we'll all be hearing a lot more from the centre in the year to come. I know you'll continue to work closely with them in your current study of cybersecurity in the financial sector.
Mr. Chair, I think it would now be appropriate to turn to the 2019-20 interim estimates, to help us focus on the coming year. Ratification by Parliament of these interim estimates will result in initial funding approvals of $2.259 billion for the Public Safety portfolio for the fiscal year 2019-20 to cover the first three months of operations. As I've noted, the detailed funding proposed will be presented to Parliament for consideration in the main estimates in April.
In comparison with the 2018-19 interim estimates, most portfolio organizations are at very similar funding levels, with the exception of Public Safety Canada—that is, the department itself. Allow me to explain that briefly. The decrease of $104.6 million in the interim estimates for Public Safety is mostly explained by the expiry of the temporary funding for the disaster financial assistance arrangements. My department is currently working with central agencies to secure the necessary funding levels for 2019-20 and beyond in support of its obligations under the DFAA.
Mr. Chair, as I've highlighted, we're implementing extraordinary changes to Canada's public safety environment. I want to thank all of you once again for the important role that this committee plays in scrutinizing the issues and providing advice. I know my colleague Minister Blair will have more to add on these various topics this afternoon, particularly with respect to a strong and effective border.
As always, I would be happy to try to do my best to answer your questions about these estimates.
Minister, it's always great to have you here, along with your very able officials. Thank you for taking the time to join us this afternoon.
On Friday, media reported that the Senate Standing Committee on National Security and Defence had delayed consideration of crucial government legislation on national security, as well as firearms, in order to hold meetings on the number of ministers who had held the Veterans Affairs portfolio.
Dr. Stephanie Carvin, an expert in national security at Carleton University, tweeted on Friday with regard to the delay, and this is her tweet:
Not great, @SenateCA. You came to work late and you need to get the job done and pass #C59. Failure to do so will mean @NoFlyListKids will go years without redress, CSIS will not have a legal basis to store datasets crucial for ops and CSE will not have powers to protect Canada.
Are you concerned about Bill , our national security legislation, as well as Bill , which included really important protections for survivors of intimate partner violence, being delayed in the Senate?
I consider both Bill and Bill to be vital pieces of legislation that need to receive the appropriate parliamentary attention as quickly as possible. I want to thank this committee for dealing with both of those items of legislation in a very thorough way. There was no compromise on your scrutiny. You examined the issues very carefully. You made a number of recommendations for changes in the legislation and sent them back to the House in a timely way. I thank this committee for that work. Now, both of those issues are before the Senate.
I have had the opportunity to speak with a number of senators about the very heavy agenda that is before them, including Bill and Bill . They do seem to be optimistic that in the time they have available between now and the summer they will be able to deal with the legislation in a full and final way.
I share the belief that this legislation is vital. It contains very important measures, such as the extensive background checks that you referred to in Bill , which I believe has received support across all party lines.
In Bill , issues that you mentioned included the ability of CSIS to deal properly with bulk datasets, the new authorities that are provided to the Communications Security Establishment, as well as the creation of a new national security and intelligence review agency to get out of these silos for reviewing our security intelligence organizations and to have one review agency that has full jurisdiction to examine any issue in any department or agency of the Government of Canada and follow the evidence wherever it may go.
There's a lot more to the legislation than that, but those are really critical innovations in the law, and it is important for the legislation to receive careful and timely consideration. The communications that I have heard from the Senate would lead me to believe that they are working diligently on the issues before them and are confident that they will be able to discharge their parliamentary duties in a timely way, and I look forward to that.
The issue is under very careful review, Ms. Damoff.
I don't think that today I can predict a precise timeline. However, I can tell you that all of the engaged departments and agencies of the Government of Canada are assessing this situation with great care and great rigour.
The global movement from what we're all familiar with under 4G to this bold new world of 5G is a tremendous advancement in science and innovation. With the kinds of benefits that 5G technology can hold for our society, for the economy, for the way we live and for the success we have as a country, the potential is simply enormous. At the same time, Canadians want to be sure that the supply chain that goes into that new technology will be safe, sound and secure.
We're not examining one particular company here or one particular country. It is the entire range of supply chain possibilities and potentialities. We want Canadians to have all the advantages of 5G, and we want the system to be safe and secure from end to end. We are doing our very best to ensure both of those objectives.
The departments of the Government of Canada are working very carefully together to make sure that we get to the very best possible decision that reflects the best Canadian vital interests, and of course in that process we will not compromise on safety or security.
Yes, indeed we do. Those measures were laid out to a considerable extent in materials that we published during the month of December, and then subsequently in two public speeches that I have given on these issues.
There is a whole suite of measures that are available to our police and security agencies to respond to every manner of threat, including returning terrorist travellers who made the decision some years ago to go to another part of the world and associate themselves with some of the most vile behaviour that you can imagine, and now some may be thinking that they want to come back home. My instinctive reaction is that they need to shoulder the burden of responsibility for their behaviour. Our primary objective is to collect the evidence to charge and prosecute to the full extent of Canadian law.
Where that is not immediately possible, or where the collection of evidence takes time, we have other measures available to the Government of Canada and to our police and security authorities to ensure that Canadians are being kept safe. For example, we can remove passports, and we can engage in further surveillance, interrogations and investigations. There is an extensive amount of information gathering and information sharing among all of our allies to make sure that we have full and accurate information. There are no-fly listings, Criminal Code listings, terrorism peace bonds and legally authorized threat reduction measures under Canadian law.
All of that is available and is applied in the proper, professional manner by the appropriate police and security agencies that act on behalf of all Canadians.
Thank you very much, Chair.
Minister and all the officials, thank you for being here.
I want to ask about the $3.8 million that goes to CSE, because in the debate on Bill , there's been this question that keeps coming back, which is that CSE is an organization that exists under the National Defence Act, as you know. Given that a lot of these umbrella organizations are being created and that money is now coming from your department to fund them, do we arrive at a point where the government envisages changing whose authority is over that department?
Minister, with all due respect to your colleague , you seem to be taking the lead on a lot of the issues that CSE works on. I'm wondering if there ever is a concern that, when the legislative, budgetary and parliamentary agenda is being led by one minister and authorizations by another, it starts to get a little muddled in terms of the responsibilities.
Is there ever any thought over rejigging how that works within cabinet?
I'd like to go back to the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security. I commend you for creating the centre. It's well needed. We're in the middle of a cybersecurity study. Every day our hearts sink a little bit in worry about the gaps that exist currently in our framework, in our country, to be able to secure ourselves.
Of the many witnesses who have come before us, some have come from other countries, notably Israel, that are known as model countries to follow when it comes to investments they've made in this area. They have a good partnership between the private sector, academia and the government.
How do you envision the Canadian Centre for Cyber Security being able to establish that? In order to have successful protections, we need to train our young people in this area, and I believe we're lacking right now.
In those two cases, the commissioner and SIRC have very extensive powers to know everything that those two agencies do, the CSE and CSIS. They have very well-established relationships where the agencies report to the review agencies. If the review agency wants any information, under the law they have complete access to all of that information. The problem is that they work in silos. SIRC can look at CSIS, and nothing else. The commissioner can look at CSE, and nothing else.
The new NSIRA, the national security and intelligence review agency created by Bill , will be a comprehensive review agency with the legal authority to look at the security and intelligence operations of any agency or department of the Government of Canada.
Apart from the couple I've mentioned, there are at least 17 different departments and agencies of the Government of Canada that have some security or intelligence function—for example, CBSA, the Privy Council Office, the Department of National Defence, the Department of Foreign Affairs, the Department of Transport and so forth. NSIRA will be able to look at all of that, without limitation.
Thank you, Minister and officials, for being here.
Minister, you have said many times that the protection of Canadians is your top priority. Rural Canadians have shown that they're not safe and they're not protected. Our committee has heard from many victims of rural crime, and from defence lawyers. People, many times, are forced to choose between hiding in their own homes, hoping that nothing goes wrong, and defending themselves and their children, potentially facing criminal charges in that defence.
Rural Canadians are wondering why your words on this and your actions don't match. I don't see anything in these estimates that deals with the skyrocketing rural crime rates. I'm wondering whether you can point me to where you're going to be dealing with this response in the estimates you've provided.
In the first instance, Mr. Motz, the principal responsibility, obviously, for rural safety and policing falls within the jurisdiction of the provinces. The Government of Canada co-operates and assists by providing, for example, the contract services of the RCMP to a vast number of rural areas and rural communities across the country. The level of policing—the number of officers and so forth—is a matter of negotiation in the establishment of those contracts. In addition to that, there is the first nations policing program, which brings additional resources into the policing of communities in rural and remote areas.
With regard to the concerns that have been expressed in the last couple of years, particularly in your province and in mine, Alberta and Saskatchewan, the RCMP have worked extensively with the provincial departments of the attorney general—or the relevant departments that deal with policing in those provinces—to ensure that the existing resources are deployed in the right manner and based upon intelligence.
The former commanding officer for the RCMP in Saskatchewan, Curtis Zablocki, made a point a couple of years ago of travelling extensively through rural Saskatchewan, conducting public town hall meetings with the local municipalities to get their input and advice. He then deployed that information to ensure the proper distribution and deployment of his officers and personnel.
A different, but similar, effort was undertaken in Alberta. I note that both the Attorney General of Saskatchewan, Mr. Morgan, and the Attorney General of Alberta, Ms. Ganley, have commented publicly that they have appreciated very much the work that's been done in the last year and a half to increase the level of awareness and collaboration.
The deployment of resources assisted in bringing down the angst about rural safety—and I don't minimize that angst because it's a very real concern. Progress has been made. Additional progress will be possible with new funding that we will be making available to all of the provinces to better deal with issues of guns and gangs, including rural gangs.
Thank you, Minister. We have a long way to go. That's the issue.
Under your watch, we've lost control at our borders. Border security officers are being redeployed to deal with the crisis and are not being replaced across the country. As I said, rural crime is a major concern in many areas. The RCMP is in crisis, with both its urban and rural detachments and its crime labs being under-resourced and under-supplied. We have ISIS terrorists returning to Canada with little or no intervention. Some even get parole while they remain a threat to our country and to people. Corrections officers fear being stabbed, and, according to you, urban crime is rampant and gangs are out of control.
Your various legislations have met opposition from everyone except my colleagues across the way. Quite frankly, Canadians expected to see, in these estimates, something different. They wanted to see a plan. Instead, with all due respect, it appears as if your primary job is to protect and cover up for an incompetent prime minister.
Can you show me here, in these estimates, how you're going to deal with rural crime? How are you going to deal with gangs? How are you going to deal with cybersecurity? How are you going to deal with securing our borders? I don't see them anywhere in these estimates.
This is something the Government of Canada and all of the provinces and territories have been working on for the last three years, the development of a new, all-inclusive emergency management strategy for the country. There has been excellent buy-in and co-operation and enthusiastic support from all other jurisdictions, the provinces and territories in particular. There are many municipalities and other organizations that are interested in this.
We've taken not just a whole-of-government approach, but a whole-of-society approach, recognizing that when disaster strikes, you need everybody on board responding completely and comprehensively in a way that is thought out in advance, planned and coordinated, so that the maximum benefit can be achieved for Canadians. The strategy lays that out.
It also benefits from extremely good communication and co-operation with indigenous communities across the country. One of the things included in our approach is doing a complete inventory in all of the roughly 700 indigenous communities across Canada to know the risk factors that affect those communities and the capacity within those communities to deal with those risk factors, and to determine where the gaps are and how we need to fill them. The coordination has been extraordinarily good.
At the meeting you referred to in January with all provinces and territories represented, I have never seen a more positive attitude around the federal-provincial-territorial table than that discussion. It was excellent, and we now have the strategy. We are all committed, federally and provincially, over the next five years, to take the elements of that strategy and implement those elements to ensure that Canadians are kept safe, in part, by having the most effective emergency response capabilities they can possibly have.
The Parliamentary Budget Officer and the Auditor General have analyzed the pattern of increasing risk over the last number of years, and in taking climate change into account have tried to project into the future what we can expect in losses and damages, particularly from floods and wildfires. The projection is that we probably need to set aside about a billion dollars a year just for cleaning up the mess after the fact.
One of the premises in the emergency management strategy, recognizing that this is the big future risk going forward, is that we're going to either pay now or pay later. You either prevent the loss, or you clean up the mess after the fact. The latter is usually more expensive.
We have tried to identify opportunities in our infrastructure spending, for example, where, before the fact, you can build structures—some of them heavily engineered, concrete structures and some of them natural habitat—to better control water flows, so that you can try to protect yourself as much as possible from the storm that dumps a year's worth of precipitation on a community or an area in two or three days and then floods everything with huge losses.
We have a federal program called the DFAA, disaster financial assistance arrangements, which compensates for some of the losses. That program has, if my memory serves me correctly, paid out more to compensate for floods and wildfires in the last six years than it has paid out in total over the full history of the program, going back to 1970.
Obviously, the situation in recent years has been getting worse and the risk is higher. Therefore, investing in more climate-resilient infrastructure in advance will save you money after the fact.
It's a hugely important question, Ms. Dabrusin. Thank you for raising it. I know that members around this table, on all sides, have taken a great interest in PTSD or PTSI.
We are committed to the production, later on this spring, of a comprehensive strategy with respect to PTSI. That will be forthcoming in the months immediately ahead. There are various elements of that already in place. In the last budget, for example, there was significant funding set aside for an organization called the Canadian Institute for Public Safety Research and Treatment. It's a network of universities and academic organizations across the country working with the Canadian Institutes of Health Research on the research that is necessary specifically with respect to PTSI among first responders. They have full access to all the work that is done with respect to military personnel and veterans, as well. This is new research that is being undertaken, specifically focused on the issues relevant to first responders.
The RCMP has just upgraded its mental health services. I believe about $10 million, or perhaps $20 million, was set aside for the RCMP in the latest budget. The last couple of budgets have invested significant new dollars in both treatment and research, but we need to pull this all together in a coordinated way with the provinces—because many of these people are operating under either provincial or municipal jurisdiction—with the academic institutions, and with the unions that represent firefighters and police officers and paramedics, as well as the chiefs and the management in each one of those areas. That's what the comprehensive approach is intended to do.
The Prime Minister was asked that question a month or so ago in the House, and he indicated that we are on track to deliver later this spring a comprehensive policy where we pull all of these threads together. Part of it is the private member's legislation.... Was it Bill ?
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.
Good afternoon, colleagues.
Given that earlier today provided an overview on behalf of the portfolio, I'd like to take the opportunity to focus on some of the work I have been undertaking as the Minister of Border Security and Organized Crime Reduction with various partners since the last time I had the opportunity and privilege of appearing before this committee.
I appreciate that the agency and department heads have stayed on for another hour to help with any questions that you may have. I take great comfort in being surrounded by their expertise.
As you know, my mandate as minister is to ensure that our borders remain secure and to lead efforts to reduce the impact of organized crime. These issues do not rest in any one department, so ensuring that strong links exist between so many departments and agencies is critical both within and outside the Public Safety portfolio. The latter has provided extraordinary support on issues ranging from border security to drug-impaired driving and tackling gun violence.
Health Canada and Justice Canada have also been key to our success in the legalization and strict regulation of cannabis, helping to reinforce new impaired driving laws, which we announced very recently, and advocating for responsible cannabis use.
Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada, along with Global Affairs Canada, have also undertaken critical work on irregular migration and on discussing the safe third country agreement with the Standing Committee on Citizenship and Immigration.
Transport Canada and Global Affairs have also helped to look at opportunities for pre-clearance for Canadians travelling to the United States.
I have been reaching out to provincial, territorial and municipal colleagues, stakeholders and other partners, including chiefs of police, on a wide range of issues under my mandate, including addressing gun violence. I've had the chance to discuss that issue at a recent meeting of federal, provincial and territorial ministers as well. Over the last few months, engagement activities on reducing gun and gang violence, including in-person round table sessions across Canada and an online questionnaire have taken place. I will have more to report on that important work in the near future.
I have also met with our American colleagues in Washington, D.C., to continue co-operative efforts to keep our borders safe while also protecting citizens from crime and the dangers of illegal substances.
Mr. Chair, while we face many challenges in the realm of public safety and security, I have full faith in each and every one of our departments and agencies and in their leadership to build on the progress we have already made together. The people working in these departments are extremely dedicated, hard-working individuals, and I want to take the opportunity to commend them for the work they do each and every day to keep Canadians safe.
Minister Goodale has already highlighted for you in his remarks some of the work that is taking place. As he noted, the estimates are an important tool to make sure that funds are flowing where they need to flow. He highlighted that in supplementary estimates (B), the Public Safety portfolio as a whole is requesting total authorities that would result in a net increase of $24.3 million over authorities to date. This constitutes a 0.2% increase.
With respect to the interim estimates, I'll note that most of the portfolio has similar funding levels to 2018-19. I'd like to focus on a few specific items, which are, as I've said, specific to my mandate.
One of my key commitments is to make sure that we're investing in keeping Canada's borders open to the free flow of legitimate trade and travel while promoting the protection and safety of Canadians. The supplementary estimates highlight transfers to other organizations for services provided to them. I raise this because it highlights how closely the CBSA works with partners to keep our borders safe and efficient. For example, Shared Services Canada provides key information technology services. The RCMP provides law enforcement record checks, and the Department of Foreign Affairs, Trade and Development provides support to CBSA officers who are located at missions abroad.
Protecting our borders is truly a collaborative undertaking across all levels of government and across many departments. It's mission-critical that we manage it effectively while also ensuring the national and economic security of Canada and the United States writ large, which in turn can have a global impact. This is central to my mandate and will remain a key focus for me as we move forward.
On that, I'm pleased to report that progress is being made on a number of files, including pre-clearance systems. Pre-clearance means that travellers can complete necessary customs and immigration procedures before they leave, instead of after they arrive. As you know, Canada and the U.S. recently negotiated an expansion of pre-clearance, thanks in no small part to this committee's careful review of the legislation that allowed it. The goal is to cover more airports and other modes of transportation and to allow for traffic moving south to north. Both countries have now passed the necessary legislation for that to move forward, and work is currently under way on expansion to new locations and to look for opportunities like cargo pre-clearance.
On the security front, I'll note that I'm also fortunate to have forged a very solid working relationship with the departments of Homeland Security and Justice, and other U.S. agencies that help us meet the demands of a complex and evolving security landscape. That relationship is critical to protecting Canadians every day, supporting our efforts to counter guns, gangs and opioid distribution—things that are all central to my mandate.
Mr. Chair, these are merely a few examples of the important work that is happening across the Public Safety portfolio and beyond to the work of many departments supporting my mandate. I want to thank the members of this committee for their consideration of these estimates and for all their important ongoing work.
Mr. Chair, thank you, and I look forward to the questions of the committee.
Thanks, Minister Blair, for being with us again. It's always nice to have you here to answer our questions.
Minister, one of the things you've been doing is having consultations around handguns and assault weapons. I've been following the testimony at the Senate committee, and in particular the information that the Canadian Doctors for Protection from Guns have been talking about, as well as Dr. Alan Drummond, who has appeared before our committee a number of times. They have said that we need to be looking at firearms from a public health perspective.
Something I've brought up here at committee a number of times is not just the implication of guns in gangs and criminal activities, but also their prevalence in suicides: 75% to 80% of gun deaths are suicides. Also, in terms of intimate partner violence, 26% of deaths in Ontario involved a firearm. There are a number of other peer-reviewed studies of rural areas that point to firearms being implicated in intimate partner violence. I spoke to the director of the YWCA in Lethbridge, Alberta, and asked her in how many cases firearms were implicated in women coming to the shelter, and she said it was in all of them.
In your consultations, I'm wondering whether this has been a factor that you've been considering and whether it has come up at all, because it really is a part of the conversation that seems to get lost in all the rhetoric.
Yes, Ms. Damoff, let me assure you that this is certainly a consideration that has been well canvassed in my examination of this issue as part of my mandate. We have a Canadian Firearms Advisory Committee, which I meet with regularly. There is an emergency room physician in that group who provides that perspective. The group that testified before the Senate, the trauma and emergency room physicians who spoke, I have met with them as a group as well.
I think it's very important for us to have that perspective. In my experience, applying a public health lens where we look at all the harms, both social and health, related to the issue of firearm violence in our communities, can be very helpful in ensuring that we do take measures that will actually be effective in keeping people safe, to reduce the incidence of fear. I believe that, at my last committee appearance here, we spoke about how prevalent fear is in intimate partner relationships where there's a firearm present, for example, and the impact it can have on individuals who are suffering from depression or other forms of illness that could cause them to be a risk to themselves or to others.
The public health lens is a very effective way in which that can be done, and certainly in our consultations that has been well articulated by witnesses who have come before me.
That is great. Thank you.
Since you have been a minister, you have often said in your responses to questions that the Conservative government reduced the budget of the Canada Border Services Agency, or CBSA, by $300 million.
When Mr. Ossowski, the CBSA president, appeared before our committee on May 10, 2018, he explained that the decreases in the supplementary estimates could be a result of a number of major projects coming to an end. Funding had been allocated, but was no longer necessary. Hence the budget was reduced and returned to stability. Can you confirm for us today that the reply suggested to you from the Prime Minister's office was false, that the Conservatives did not make cuts, and that it is simply about going back to a normal budget?
Actually, I do. I was just getting some additional information.
First of all, with respect to that money, it is in IRCC's budget and it would be more appropriately addressed at the CIMM committee. However, I'm happy to tell you that people who have come to this country as refugees have historically been a responsibility of all three orders of government, including municipalities, provinces and territories. We have made an effort, for many generations, to ensure that they are appropriately housed and have access, more recently, to medical services and other services while they undergo our legal due process in determining their eligibility to stay.
As a result of an increase in the number of people who have arrived recently, not unlike what we experienced in previous years, we saw that there was an impact—a cost impact—particularly on municipalities. Therefore, we have been working to provide assistance and support to municipalities, which have really stepped up and done an excellent job of providing those individuals with temporary housing.
As you're aware, there are ongoing discussions with the provinces of Ontario and Quebec and with other provinces as well. We see this as very much a cost-sharing partnership among all three orders of government, and we're working hard to make sure that it's done in an appropriate way.
I have two questions on street gangs, which is also part of your mandate.
There is a lot of talk about finances and strategies. But I wonder what the money is being used for, more specifically. Before the recruitment fund was eliminated by the previous government, provinces and territories could hire front-line officers, for places not covered by the RCMP.
As a Quebec member, the example that comes to my mind is the Section Éclipse in Montreal. That could have been eliminated because the funding was terminated. In the end, the province and the municipality stepped in to fill the gap in the funding.
Do you foresee reinstating that recruitment fund, which enables provinces and municipalities to fight street gangs, especially in Ontario and Quebec? As you know, in those two provinces, the provincial police forces are part of that fight and must have the resources they need.
I am familiar with the previous government introducing the police officer recruitment fund, in 2008. That fund expired in 2013, and it was not continued.
I can tell you what we've been doing with respect to guns and gang violence. First of all, Minister Goodale convened a summit of law enforcement and other community officials from across the country to gather information, and based on the feedback we received, an announcement was made by Public Safety Canada and $347 million was committed to a number of different initiatives in response to gun and gang concerns across the country.
Some of that money was dedicated to both the RCMP and the CBSA for the important work that they do in interdicting the supply of guns and conducting criminal investigations into the individuals responsible for it. Also, a significant portion of that funding, some $214 million, is to be allocated through the provinces and territories to various initiatives, including, but not limited to, law enforcement initiatives. Those discussions are currently taking place with the provinces and territories for the allocation of those monies.
I have a minute left, Minister.
One of my colleagues, Ms. Dabrusin, asked about CBSA oversight. It feels like it's been three years now that Mr. Goodale has been telling us over and over that it's coming, so maybe we'll get a bill that we can adopt before the election.
Glibness aside, I do want to address this issue. I don't know if you could comment on this, or if this is for Minister Goodale. He did mention that the new review body created in Bill would look into issues relating to national security. However, many of the issues that have come forward, especially in the media, that such a body could look at—in particular, allegations of harassment in the workplace and things of that nature, or even some of the security issues that have been raised—could be looked at by a more specific mechanism that doesn't necessarily fall under....
There's some debate about whether everything the CBSA does, as a national security body, falls under that committee. Can you comment on that specifically? What's being done to address some of those issues in the workplace and some of those security screening issues, for example, that oversight and review could help us address?
Thank you, Minister, for being here today.
I don't know if you're aware, but I think Mr. Paul-Hus and one of our Liberal members recently filmed an episode of Political Blind Date, where they went to the Quebec-U.S. border to see the situation of asylum seekers first-hand. He may be under duty not to say what happened in the show at this point, because I don't know if it has aired or not, but there was a little segment in The Hill Times about it. I believe that during the whole time they were there, they didn't see a single irregular border crosser.
The purpose of the show is to bring issues...when members from different parties have different views on issues, to try to see where they can be brought together in an unusual circumstance. I thought it was quite interesting. I wanted to hear first-hand from you about the numbers, and if, in fact, the numbers of irregular border entries have decreased.
Can you shed some light on that? If that is the case, if they were there for many hours and there was no occurrence, how have you been able to accomplish that?
We've done a fairly significant amount of work. First of all, in some of the outreach, we've gone into those communities from which people were originally coming to seek asylum here, to make sure that they clearly understand Canadian law: that crossing the border irregularly is not a free pass or ticket to permanent residency or citizenship; that they would be subject to due process to determine their eligibility; and that if they are not eligible—if they are not truly in need of our protection—they would be subject to removal. We wanted to make sure that was clearly communicated.
What we have seen, in some of those places, is that this had a very positive effect in disincentivizing and discouraging people from making the mistake of getting in the wrong line. If they were trying to come to Canada for reasons other than seeking asylum and protection, we wanted to make sure they understood that it wasn't the right way to come in. It had some positive effect.
We've also been doing a great deal of work with U.S. authorities. We found last year, for example, that a number of people in the early part of the year were coming to the country in possession of temporary tourist visas issued by the United States. People were coming into the United States and then presenting themselves at the Canadian border. We worked very closely with the United States, pointing out the difficulty. We deployed CBSA officers to work with the Americans on the ground where these tourist visas were being implemented, and we saw a 73% reduction in people coming from that location.
There are a number of very effective things that our officials have been undertaking to make sure that people have a better understanding of Canadian law and how it would be applied in these circumstances. I think that has contributed significantly to the reductions we've seen in the number of people presenting themselves at our border.
As you've alluded, we have a victims' ombudsman, a person who is available to those who are victims. We also work very closely.... In most jurisdictions across the country, there are various victims services units, people who provide service to those who have been either the victim of a crime or related to someone who is the victim of a crime.
Very recently, we had the terrible tragedy on the Danforth. I spoke to victims services earlier this week and then met with and spoke to some of the people who have been deeply impacted and traumatized by that event, to make sure that they are, in fact, connecting with the services that are available to them. We continue to work with them.
You speak to another issue that I think is very important, and that is the notion of fear. I think fear is the greatest enemy of public safety, and when we become fearful in our own communities, we become less safe. People don't go to public space, they don't shop on their main street, and they don't take their kids to the park. They stop interacting with each other, and they stop interaction with law enforcement officials. Fear is something that I think we as a society need to make sure we address in an appropriate way. We need to help people be and feel safe in their own communities.
My opinion doesn't change. They are still illegal border crossers. You indicated that they were fleeing persecution in the United States, and then in answer to one of the questions from committee members, you indicated that you considered the U.S. to be a safe third country, which is the conflict in itself. Your statements are confusing, to say the least.
I want to get to an issue that is certainly front and centre for many Canadians, and that is the whole issue of gangs and guns, and your mandate. Your mandate letter makes no mention of cracking down on guns or illegal weapons; all it says is that you're supposed to deal with handguns and assault weapons and get them off our streets. I don't know what an assault weapon is in Canada. I've never heard of it, and I've never seen one.
Can you tell the committee how many firearm-related crimes occurred in 2017 and 2018 by licensed firearm owners?
During my time in the Toronto Police Service, both as the chief of detectives and then for 10 years as the chief of police, we made an effort to trace the origin of all guns that were used in crime in our city.
During that period of time, some 13 years, the evidence was very strong and fairly consistent. About 70% of the crime guns we came in possession of had been smuggled across the border. Also, because we traced the origin of those guns, we were able to determine if they were domestically sourced, if they had been brought legally into this country, purchased and acquired legally, and then ended up in the hands of criminals.
I can also tell you from my experience that, in a significant number of cases, there have been thefts of lawfully owned and possessed guns, and those guns have been subsequently used in criminal offences by people who resolve their disputes through violence, and there have been other means of diversion as well.
In my experience, about 70% were across the border, and 30% domestic. When we use the figure of 50%, we are relying on information. First of all, the current chief of police in Toronto says it's about 50%. I've also heard from the Regina police chief, Chief Evan Bray, who said that, in Saskatchewan, 50% of the firearms they seized were domestically sourced as well.
That brings us to the close of our questioning. On behalf of the committee, I want to thank Minister Blair and his colleagues for their presentation.
As I indicated earlier to you, colleagues, I'm going to be calling the votes on the supplementary and interim estimates.
The first vote is on the supplementary estimates. I believe you have copies. It's a vote on Correctional Service of Canada, vote 1b; Department of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, vote 5b; and Royal Canadian Mounted Police, votes 1b, 5b, and 10b, as referred to the committee on January 28.
CORRECTIONAL SERVICE OF CANADA
Vote 1b—Operating expenditures, grants and contributions..........$6,556,326
(Vote 1b agreed to on division)
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
Vote 5b—Grants and contributions..........$1
(Vote 5b agreed to on division)
ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
Vote 1b—Operating expenditures..........$10,174,531
Vote 5b—Capital expenditures..........$1,738,000
Vote 10b—Grants and contributions..........$9,900,000
(Votes 1b, 5b and 10b agreed to on division)
The Chair: Shall the chair report that to the House?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
An hon. member: On division.
The Chair: On interim estimates, there are quite a number of other votes, all of which you have in front of you. If you wish, I can read them all, but I'm assuming that all of you can read. Shall the interim estimates pass?
CANADA BORDER SERVICES AGENCY
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$387,553,464
Vote 5—Capital expenditures..........$31,182,156
(Votes 1 and 5 agreed to on division)
CANADIAN SECURITY INTELLIGENCE SERVICE
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$133,898,201
(Vote 1 agreed to on division)
CIVILIAN REVIEW AND COMPLAINTS COMMISSION FOR THE ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$2,425,100
(Vote 1 agreed to on division)
CORRECTIONAL SERVICE OF CANADA
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$515,737,745
Vote 5—Capital expenditures..........$46,952,171
(Votes 1 and 5 agreed to on division)
DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY AND EMERGENCY PREPAREDNESS
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$32,533,994
Vote 5—The grants listed in any of the estimates for the fiscal year..........$149,413,839
(Votes 1 and 5 agreed to on division)
OFFICE OF THE CORRECTIONAL INVESTIGATOR OF CANADA
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$1,183,926
(Vote 1 agreed to on division)
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$10,444,350
(Vote 1 agreed to on division)
ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE
Vote 1—Operating expenditures..........$812,003,729
Vote 5—Capital expenditures..........$62,173,355
Vote 10—The grants listed in any of the estimates for the fiscal year..........$71,618,371
(Votes 1, 5 and 10 agreed to on division)
ROYAL CANADIAN MOUNTED POLICE EXTERNAL REVIEW COMMITTEE
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$1,538,473
(Vote 1 agreed to on division)
SECRETARIAT OF THE NATIONAL SECURITY AND INTELLIGENCE COMMITTEE OF PARLIAMENTARIANS
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$817,831
(Vote 1 agreed to on division)
SECURITY INTELLIGENCE REVIEW COMMITTEE
Vote 1—Program expenditures..........$1,157,257
(Vote 1 agreed to on division)
The Chair: Shall I report that vote to the House?
Some hon. members: Agreed.
An hon. member: On division.
The Chair: Thank you very much, colleagues.
With that, we are adjourned.