First Ontario budget update notes money for bail system, Indigenous policing

By Terry Davidson

Law360 Canada (August 14, 2023, 5:11 PM EDT) -- Ontario’s government has issued its first quarter finances update, noting new commitments to provincial police for equipment and technology, a program enhancing law enforcement in Indigenous communities and the strengthening of the province’s bail system.  

Released Aug. 14, the 2023-24 First Quarter Finances is “the first update of the province’s economic and fiscal outlook” since the government’s release of its 2023 budget.

“Ontario’s economy has shown resiliency in 2023 in the face of elevated economic and geopolitical uncertainties,” it states. “While inflationary pressure has eased following a rapid series of interest rate increases by the Bank of Canada, the impact of higher interest rates weighs on the economic outlook for the remainder of the year and into 2024.”

In a section titled Program Expense Update, it notes that the “outlook for program expense in 2023-24 is projected to be $190.6 billion,” which is “largely unchanged from the projection in the 2023 Ontario Budget.”

However, key changes “to program expense projections” include:
  • $75.0 million to support front-line operations of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP), including investing in new technologies, equipment and services.
  • $49.7 million to help police identify and dismantle organized auto theft crime, strengthen the province’s bail system and ensure that offenders comply with their bail conditions.
  • $26.6 million for the First Nations and Inuit Policing Program, to increase policing capacity and support the repair and replacement of policing facilities, with $0.2 million offset through federal transfers.

Also, $1.9 million has been earmarked for strengthening the Northern Fire Protection Program in a bid to “modernize the delivery of fire training and certification.”

Firefighters have been waging a war in various parts of Canada against record-setting wildfires. It was recently reported that around 134,000 square kilometres of land have been scorched, and that almost 160,000 people have been forced to evacuate at some point this summer.

“New commitments announced since the release of the 2023 Budget are primarily funded through existing contingencies within the fiscal plan,” confirmed a government spokesperson.

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