Eliminating house arrest could cost feds, says budget watchdog
Changes could cost could cost taxpayers about $145 million a year
OTTAWA — A controversial plan by the Conservative government to eliminate house arrest for a number of repeat and serious offences could cost taxpayers about $145 million a year — $8 million of which would be borne by the feds, according to an analysis released Tuesday by Canada’s budget watchdog.
The report by the Parliamentary Budget Officer considers the fiscal impact of conditional sentencing provisions in Bill C-10, the Safe Streets and Communities Act, had it been in force in 2008-2009.
It found the provinces and territories would have been on the hook for $137 million.
It also noted that 4,468 offenders would no longer have been eligible for house arrest had the provisions been in place four years ago. An estimated 650 of them would have been acquitted.
According to the report, the average cost per offender would have jumped to $41,000 from $2,600, a 16-fold increase.
The report cautions the analysis does not estimate future costs, nor does it include capital costs such as those associated with building new prisons.
The government has insisted the provisions would have no fiscal impact on federal coffers and has been coy about the cost to the provinces.
Ontario and Quebec both have said they would not pick up additional costs associated with the C-10 crime bill.