Crime in Saskatchewan: How the NDP and Sask Party plan to address it
REGINA -- With crime rising in Saskatchewan’s two largest cities, both major provincial parties are hoping better mental health supports can help stem the problem.
The Saskatchewan Party is citing its record on increasing funding for mental health and addictions support, while the NDP wants to create a crystal meth and opioid strategy.
Both parties say addressing addictions and mental health gets to the root of helping solve crime.
Their plans come after Statistics Canada reported crime had increased in Regina and Saskatoon from 2016 to 2018.
In 2016, there were 23,854 incidents of crime in Regina, increasing to 25,047 in 2018.
In Saskatoon, there were 27,939 incidents in 2016, rising to 28,129 in 2018.
Despite the rise in the cities, crime fell on average across the province from 153,479 incidents in 2016 to 146,499 in 2018.
The latest year Statistics Canada reported these figures was in 2018.
Here’s how the parties would address crime.
SASK PARTY SPEAKS ON PAST INVESTMNETS
Sask Party leader Scott Moe said his government’s previous investments of $60 million over two years for mental health and addictions supports have been helpful.
He said treating people with addictions is important when it comes to addressing crime.
“The drugs that are on our streets are much more toxic than they were just a few years ago," Moe said. "The outcomes are much more fatal unfortunately than they were a few years ago.”
He said he’s ready to have conversations about crime in the province, and wants to figure out how many crimes are connected to other criminal activity.
“We do need to have a very serious conversation about how we are stopping these drugs from coming into our communities,” Moe said.
NDP LOOKS TO IMPLEMENT CRYSTAL METH AND OPIOID STRATEGY
The NDP wants to create a crystal meth and opioid strategy if elected government.
The strategy would help address the root cause of crime, said Nicole Sarauer, an NDP candidate and the former justice critic with the opposition.
“When you address the root causes of crime, then you're actually able to reduce crime," she said. "You see that in other places where the root causes of crime like homelessness, like poverty, like addictions and mental health are actually being addressed. You do see those numbers go down.”
She said police officers across the province have said addictions are behind the growing rates of property crime in rural communities.
"It's in particular crystal meth addiction issues,” she said. “And we have a government right now that has refused to acknowledge or address the growing cases of crystal meth addiction we have in our province.”
POLICE CHIEFS LOOK FOR MORE PARTNERSHIPS
Chief Richard Bourassa, who leads the Saskatchewan Association of Police Chiefs, said he thinks police services should work more closely with partner agencies to better address crime.
“What we need to do is we need to be smart, we need to be creative, we'd be collaborative, and we need to work with other agencies to focus on the prevention side and the restoration side after the fact,” Bourassa said.