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Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities discussing bail reform

The Federation of Northern Ontario Municipalities (FONOM) will be discussing a resolution on bail reform at its upcoming annual general meeting.

It will be shared with municipal representatives from across the province and used to advocate for federal legislative change.

Danny Whalen, FONOM President, says at issue is people being arrested and then let out on bail shortly after, only to be arrested again.

“To us, this is a judicial problem,” he says. “It’s not a policing problem. The other thing we want to stress is that while we’re paying heavily for policing to deal with these same individuals, perhaps we would be better to invest some extra monies into social services.”

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A task force set up by FONOM has put forward four recommendations:

  • Create a designation of a chronic persistent offender
  • Allow community impact statements at bail and at bail hearings
  • Creating reverse onus in bail for all firearms offences
  • All bail-related gun charges go to the superior court for bail release

Whalen also says property crime has a big impact on municipal budgets.

“Every time there’s a break-in that’s a call for service, whether you’re a municipal police force or OPP, the municipality is paying for every call for service,” he says. “A lot of these calls are repetitive with the same individual and the same type of crime.  That’s all hitting the taxpayer.”

Along with educating the public, Whalen says the next steps include gathering data on how much repeat offenders and those in and out of social services are costing taxpayers.

He says they want to see if there’s data to support moving individuals from the judicial system to the social system.

The federation’s annual general meeting is taking place in Parry Sound on May 10.

With files from Richard Coffin

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