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Ensuring Safe and Secure Communities

Mr. Speaker, to complement these initiatives and support safe and secure communities, we are announcing a range of investments in justice, policing and violence prevention.

This year, we are investing $10 million to bolster the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the RCMP. We are investing $3.1 million of this to strengthen the police presence throughout the province. This includes $516,000 to hire four new RCMP officers in the Grand Falls-Windsor, Trinity-Conception, Deer Lake and Nain regions; $592,000 to create five RCMP regular member positions and related operational funding, including three Highway Patrol and two drug awareness officers; $900,000 to fill nine vacant regular RCMP member positions throughout the province; $970,000 to create eight new RNC Constable positions including drug awareness officers in St. John�s, Corner Brook and Labrador West; and $170,000 to support a new RNC dog unit for Corner Brook.

Some of these investments build on the success of the RNC training program. In September, the first graduates of the new RNC training program at Memorial University received their badges and, since then, all 28 have been hired to law enforcement positions in the province. Another 26 are currently enrolled and we anticipate a further 30 will join the program this year.

We will also continue to address financial and human resource deficiencies that have resulted from a decade of cutbacks to both of the province�s police forces. We are investing $6.9 million in the RNC and RCMP for administrative operations. This includes $178,000 for five new administrative / clerical positions in the RNC�s Criminal Investigation Division, Strategic Planning Division and Property Room; $166,000 to hire four new RNC civilian dispatchers; $3.4 million to help the RNC address significant pressures associated with complex investigations, equipment purchases, mandatory training and the need for a new Sexual Assault Nurses in Emergency Program; $124,000 for two RCMP Operational Communication Centre positions; $60,000 for two RCMP public service positions in Forteau and Mary�s Harbour; and $3 million for the RCMP to cover other significant costs.

Together, these initiatives will put more police on patrol while at the same time addressing the administrative issues recently raised by the Auditor General.

We are also investing $220,000 to expand court security in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Wabush and Grand Falls-Windsor and, in total, $1.1 million to strengthen the provincial legal aid system.

To enhance child protection services, we will fund 55 new child, youth and family services positions over the next three years, beginning with a new investment of $1.5 million in 2006-07. We are strengthening our resolve to make a lasting impact on the incidence of violence in our communities with a $1.25 million investment to support the government�s new six-year action plan on violence prevention, Taking Action 2012. To further assist women and their children leaving abusive relationships, we will provide an additional $305,000 to support transition homes in Labrador West, Hopedale and St. John�s. And we will also invest $100,000 this year in spousal abuse and sex offender treatment programs, expanding the programs beyond St. John�s and the west coast to include Labrador and central Newfoundland. With these measures, we will endeavour to make our communities and our people safer and more secure.

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