The cuts keep on coming from the federal government—and it would appear the reason we are not hearing announcements about them is because they are poorly thought out, unpopular, and strike at the heart of many essential services we Canadians depend on.
This past week, for instance, we learned of cuts to the Ministry of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness, and specifically to the Joint Emergency Preparedness Program and the Police Officers Recruitment Fund.
The Joint Emergency Preparedness Program (JEPP) was established in October, 1980 to “enhance the national capacity to respond to all types of emergencies and to enhance the resiliency of critical infrastructure.”
The JEPP contributes $6.5 million annually to support emergency services across Canada, including the country’s five Heavy Urban Search and Rescue (HUSAR) teams devoted to helping with disaster recovery efforts.
Most recently, the Toronto-based HUSAR unit was deployed to Elliot Lake to help with the recovery efforts at the site of that community’s tragic mall collapse.
Unfortunately, as of 2013, the JEPP no longer will exist and all funding for urban disaster relief officially will be the responsibility of cash-strapped provinces and municipalities.
With more disasters than ever occurring across the country (from wildfires to flooding to major infrastructure failures), one would think the federal government would have a larger role to play in recovery efforts, not a smaller one.
This past week, we also learned of the elimination of the Police Officers Recruitment Fund, which was a major federal program designed to help municipalities and provinces recruit police officers.
In a backgrounder on the program, Public Safety Canada and Emergency Preparedness Canada offers the following rationale: “The purpose of the fund is to support the efforts of provinces and territories in recruiting additional front-line police officers nationwide who can target local crimes and make communities safer.”
Taking this information into account then, the cancellation of this important fund therefore must mean the Harper Conservatives have made a conscious decision to eliminate their “support the efforts of front-line police officers nationwide in their work to target local crimes and make our communities safer.”
Seems like a strange decision for a Conservative party that claims to be the most committed to upholding “law and order,” wouldn’t you say?