Thank you very much, Mr. Chairman. You're quite correct.
I'm pleased to be here with Myles Kirvan, the deputy minister; Yves Côté, associate deputy minister; and Catherine Kane, senior general counsel.
I'm appearing here today to answer questions regarding the main estimates and supplementary estimates (C) in areas that fall under my jurisdiction as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada.
Mr. Chair, the Department of Justice plays an important role in maintaining the integrity of the justice system so that it meets the expectations of Canadians. At the same time, it must also use taxpayers' hard-earned dollars responsibly and prudently. To meet our responsibility, as the committee may recall, the Department of Justice requested financial resources through main estimates tabled last month in the amount of $694.6 million for the fiscal year 2012-13.
Mr. Chairman, since we were first elected, we've been committed to protecting Canadian families across this country, and as you know, the presence of illicit drugs is a significant source of harm in our communities. Over the last five years, the Government of Canada has allocated $232 million in new funding through the national anti-drug strategy to prevent illicit drug use, treat illicit drug dependency, and combat the production and distribution of illicit drugs.
Funding for certain components of NADS—or the national anti-drug strategy—will be sunsetting after the current year, and there will be a $130,000 decrease in the funding transferred from Health Canada to support the department's role in policy development, communications, and evaluation. Nevertheless, the Department of Justice will continue to support national anti-drug strategy activities internally, and therefore there will be no impact to the elimination of the Health Canada transfer of funds.
Mr. Chair, over the last 20 years, the aboriginal justice strategy has been an effective and culturally relevant alternative to the mainstream justice system for aboriginal offenders delivered in cooperation with police, judges, and counsel. The strategy both effectively reduces crime and provides alternatives to incarceration for less serious crimes in appropriate circumstances. We recognize that these programs do make a difference in helping to steer aboriginal people away from a lifestyle of crime and help to put an end to a cycle of violence. Research shows offenders who participate in the aboriginal justice strategy programs are less likely to re-offend than those who do not participate, and that this positive impact on recidivism endures over time.
The strategy has operated on a cost-shared basis with the provinces and territories and has been renewed every five years. Budget 2007 renewed and enhanced the strategy, bringing the federal investment to approximately $17.5 million per year over five years, of which $12.5 million is related to transfer payments. A portion of this funding, $12.3 million per year, is scheduled to sunset on March 31, 2012. These resources, as you might expect given with my previous comments, are currently under consideration for renewal in the upcoming fiscal year.
Mr. Chairman, legal aid is also an important component of our justice system. While we recognize that the administration of justice, including legal aid, is a provincial responsibility, we believe that working in collaboration with our provincial and territorial partners is important to ensure a strong justice system. Funding for certain activities related to legal aid, including immigration and refugee legal aid, court-ordered counsel and federal prosecutions, and program operations, will sunset at the end of this month. Therefore, the 2012-13 estimates do not reflect approximately $14 million in this area. Again, these resources are currently under consideration for renewal in the upcoming fiscal year of 2012-13.
Mr. Chair, as for the supplementary estimates (C), there was a total net decrease of just over $1.4 million, a portion of which was a transfer to the Canadian Human Rights Tribunal to support operational requirements. This decrease also represents the transfer of funds to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to provide crown witness coordinators and to implement a national website to combat organized crime.
To conclude, I'd like to express my appreciation and thanks to you and your committee members for the important work you do. The funding that the justice portfolio has received has brought results for Canadians, and I will do my utmost to ensure that these funds continue to be spent wisely.
Thank you very much, Mr. Chair.