The provincial government announced yesterday new funding in order to target firearms trafficking and violent crime in Manitoba.
Justice Minister Kelvin Goertzen says his government is allocating more than $1.4 million to Manitoba Prosecution Service (MPS) to fund 10 new positions which will increase capacity to address firearms trafficking, manufacturing and related violent crime in Manitoba.
"Our government is committed to improving public safety by ensuring the justice system has the resources needed to provide a timely and consistent response to violent crime," says Goertzen. "This increased support for prosecutions is about going after illegal guns and targeting organized crime that is causing fear in communities and victimizing Manitobans. Together with calls for federal changes to the Criminal Code on bail and other measures, meaningful steps can be taken to stop those committing violent crime in our province."
Goertzen says the $1.4 million will be annual funding.
"This funding will keep the Manitoba government's focus firmly on issues related to the use of illegal firearms, preventing and combatting gang violence, and addressing the issue of illegal or smuggled guns in our province," says Goertzen. "Our government has been consistent in its messaging that the federal government's approach to gun crimes unnecessarily targets lawful gun owners while having little impact on criminals. With this support, Manitoba Prosecution Service will have additional resources and capacity to prosecute those committing serious offences with illegal firearms."
With these positions, MPS will increase the number of prosecutors in its firearms working group and criminal organization unit to further develop auditing processes for existing firearms cases and deepen expertise in handling prosecutions.
Additional measures include:
- enhancing expertise and resources to enable rural police and prosecutors to address firearms cases and ensure equitable access to justice outside of urban areas;
- increasing capacity to advise police agencies on complex firearms trafficking and manufacturing investigations and provide adequate technical legal advice to ensure higher case clearance rates;
- providing training for prosecutors on recent methods of firearm and firearm component manufacturing and trafficking; and
- hiring additional support staff to help manage increased case files and training activities and assist with victims/witness management.
Goertzen says violent weapons-related crime is on the rise across Canada and Manitoba has been particularly impacted. He adds RCMP in rural Manitoba communities have said violent crimes are increasingly driven by street gangs and serious offenders who use a variety of weapons including firearms.