Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I'm pleased to have this opportunity to discuss the government's spending plans for the public safety portfolio as laid before Parliament in the main estimates.
I have brought with me today an entire posse of senior officials from the portfolio. I have Mario Dion, chairperson at the National Parole Board; Marc-Arthur Hyppolite, who is senior deputy commissioner of the Correctional Service of Canada; Stephen Rigby, president of the Canadian Border Services Agency; Myles Kirvan, who is associate deputy minister of public safety; James Judd, director of CSIS, the Canadian Security Intelligence Service; and William Sweeney, senior deputy commissioner of the RCMP.
While I have to leave at 10:30 a.m., as does the associate deputy minister, I do believe the other officials will be able to remain for the last half hour--and I hope I'm correct there--if there are any questions.
The main estimates 2009-2010 for the public safety portfolio total $7.3 billion, which represents a modest 0.5% increase over the budget for the previous fiscal year. Subject to Parliament's approval, the Government of Canada will use these funds to fund programs to protect Canadians' safety and to continue the efforts begun three years ago to increase security in the streets and communities for all Canadians.
You can obtain more information on our priorities in the reports on plans and priorities presented to Parliament on March 26.
These main estimates reflect the government's decision to invest this year in new measures to enhance public safety, including renewal of the national crime prevention strategy, federal security responsibilities for the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games, continuing the transformation of corrections, and additional resources for the RCMP to focus on law enforcement priorities such as drugs and border security.
The main estimates also include government investments in public safety since 2006.
Since coming to power, the government has paid considerable amounts to improve border security, emergency preparedness and youth crime prevention, as well as to hire 1,500 new RCMP officers and reform of the Correctional Service.
Budgets since 2006 have invested in programs to help protect children from sexual exploitation over the Internet, funded the national anti-drug strategy, and established funds for the provinces so they can hire more police officers. The cumulative effects of these investments are that there are more police on the streets; there is a greater and more focused emphasis on crime prevention; we are getting tougher on gangs and drug-related gun crimes; and we have just introduced new legislation to create stiffer penalties for many of these offences.
We are transforming the federal correctional system and strengthening Canada's national security capability. We have also reinforced the border by making it more effective and secure. We have reason to be proud of all these achievements.
The security and integrity of Canada's borders remains an important government priority. These estimates reflect additional funding for the Canada Border Services Agency's basic operations, border security and Olympic security. In fact, the government is investing $345 million over the next four years to ensure that the Canada Border Services Agency has all it needs to meet its mandate. I was pleased this week to announce expansions to publicly funded services provided by the Canada Border Services Agency at airports across the country.
With regard to the RCMP, the main estimates provide for an increase of $48 million in spending power for 2009-2010. Furthermore, through the supplementary estimates (A), the government will seek an additional amount of $130 million to bear the federal share of costs related to the 2010 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games and to provide for other budget allocations for police activities.
In brief, we are managing prudently. We are keeping our commitments and we are ensuring our agencies have the resources they need to carry out their mandates.
Now, since I appeared before you last, I understand this committee has been studying border security. I would like to report to you on my recent visit to Washington, where I met with key officials from the Obama administration and Congress, including both the Secretary of Homeland Security, Janet Napolitano, and Attorney General Eric Holder. I reminded them that Canada is America's closest friend, most trusted ally, and most important trading partner.
As part of my discussions with Secretary Napolitano, we have agreed to seek opportunities to cooperate and work together to achieve our common objectives of reinforcing security and developing trade. We have also decided to meet twice a year on an official basis to manage border issues.
These meetings will help us develop measures together. They give us greater security and facilitate trade. We will work to finalize details on initiatives that allow Canada and the U.S. to work more cooperatively on border issues. One such initiative is the shiprider program. On that front, we spoke about the need to finalize a framework agreement that will allow both countries to implement the program on a national basis. We also agreed to again explore the possibility of moving forward with land preclearance.
Later this month, I will be meeting with Secretary Napolitano once again. The positive and constructive discussions I have had with my American counterparts are encouraging. In my opinion, we have the opportunity to work with the new American government to move matters forward and develop effective approaches to solving common problems.
National security is an important concern for our government. Terrorist activity continues to take Canadian lives in Afghanistan. Extremist and terrorist activity proves to be an enduring threat around the world.
Canada has been working closely with our allies to combat potential threats to our security. However, I believe the concerted effort that has been applied since 2001 has been paying off. While the risks remain real and incidents are still frequent, I believe the world is a safer place today. The collective counterterrorism efforts of Canada and our allies have made a difference.
Here in Canada we've had the first successful prosecution of the Toronto 18 extremist group. The recent conviction here in Ottawa of Momin Khawaja was the first successful prosecution under Canada's Anti-terrorism Act. These are tributes to the successful efforts of our intelligence and law enforcement agencies, but it's also a reminder of the reality that extremist and terrorist threats are very real and we must remain vigilant.
Another significant national security issue we face is cyber security. We've recently seen cyber attacks on the countries of Estonia and Georgia. The recent report from the Munk Centre at the University of Toronto is not a surprise to the government. Not a day goes by when someone, somewhere in the world, isn't trying to breach the security of our systems.
Our government will continue building on our work in this area. We will be working with our allies to meet this challenge, a challenge that changes and grows daily. We will also be encouraging the private sector to seriously engage on this issue, as it represents a potential threat to our economy, security, and stability.
Before we go to questions, in preparing for my appearance here today, it came to my attention that when I appeared before you last, there was one question to which I needed to correct the answer. There was a question, which I believe came from Mr. Harris, regarding funding in the supplementary estimates, an item totalling $1.142 million for the security and prosperity partnership. I had indicated in my initial answer that it related to the security priority of the five priorities of the security and prosperity partnership, which is called smart and secure borders. I then consulted with officials, came back, and told you, no, it wasn't that. It was in fact for the Montebello summit. My initial answer was in fact the correct one. Having had it drawn to my attention last night when reviewing these notes, I wanted to clear that up for the committee so that you have a clear understanding and record of it.
I know the committee has a busy agenda to examine a range of issues. I know how broad and expansive the jurisdictions and issues in front of this committees are. I appreciate your efforts. My officials and I are happy to support your work by appearing before you. I appreciate the considerable effort that this committee puts into that broad range of very important issues for the safety and security of Canadians.
I'm happy to answer any questions you might have. I apologize again in advance for having to depart at 10:30. Hopefully, we can get a lot done by then.