Thank you, Mr. Chair and members of the committee. l'm very pleased to have had this invitation to appear here to discuss the Public Safety portfolio's main estimates for this fiscal year.
As you indicated, senior officials from Public Safety and the agencies I am responsible for are here as well. I'm truly a fortunate person in terms of the quality of individuals who assist me in protecting Canadians on a day-to-day basis.
The committee has before it the main estimates for fiscal year 2012-13 which, if ratified by Parliament, will result in funding approvals of $8.37 billion for the portfolio. This represents a net decrease of $323.8 million, or 4%, from the 2011-12 main estimates.
The main estimates for this fiscal year, I should point out, do not reflect anticipated savings for the portfolio under the deficit reduction action plan, as outlined in the economic action plan of 2012.
As a result of its strong work on safety and security issues, this committee is very familiar with the portfolio and the vital role it plays in tackling crime, strengthening our borders, protecting our children, and making our communities safe. You would also know that protecting Canadians is a priority for our government.
Getting safety and security right matters in a very practical way. The first duty of any government is the safety of its citizens. The right to be secure from harm is at the foundation of every other right of citizenship. It is the essential condition for every other freedom. Our government remains firmly committed to protecting the safety and security of Canadians.
We remain firmly committed to cracking down on crime and to strengthening the security of our borders while working to accelerate the legitimate flow of goods and people across our joint border with the United States.
In an era of fiscal restraint, we are focused on the core responsibilities of government while finding all possible efficiencies and savings. This is what the main estimates for fiscal year 2012-13 will allow us to accomplish.
The total funding sought in main estimates for Public Safety Canada this fiscal year is $432.7 million, which represents a modest increase of $18.1 million over the previous fiscal year. The net spending increase of the total departmental authorities is due to an increase in grants of $8.4 million as well as an increase in contributions of $21 million, which is offset by a net decrease in operating costs of $11.3 million.
The increase in grants and contributions includes $15 million for the sustainability of the first nations policing program; $7.9 million for the ex gratia payments to the families of the victims of Air India flight 182; $6.1 million for the renewal of the youth gang prevention fund; as well as $1 million for the Kanishka Project research initiative. Yesterday, as some of you may know, I announced the first round of funding worth just over $1 million. This goes toward six innovative research projects that will help build Canada's knowledge and understanding of the complex issue of terrorism. That fund is actually $10 million over five years.
Honourable members will know that our government recently completed successful negotiations with the provinces and territories for a renewed 20-year contract policing agreement with the RCMP. I certainly want to thank officials from the Public Safety department who worked very closely with the RCMP and with the heads of the relevant provincial authorities in making that a reality. It was a challenging but very worthwhile exercise.
I'm also pleased to hear that the committee has decided to undertake a study into the economics of policing. This is a timely study, and I look forward to hearing of your deliberations and eventual report in this matter.
The main estimates for this fiscal year reflect a decrease of $205.6 million due to the expiry of the previous 20-year policing services agreement that expired on March 31. Funding requirements for the new agreement will be met through supplementary estimates as the individual contracts are ratified with the provincial and territorial governments.
The total funding sought in main estimates for the RCMP this fiscal year is $2.55 billion. This represents a decrease of $329 million, or 11.4%, over the previous fiscal years, the majority of which, as I indicated, is comprised of the adjustment to the funding for contract police services that will then be dealt with in the supplementary estimates.
One of our government's top priorities since we were first elected has been cracking down on crime and holding offenders to full account for their actions. That is why the main estimates for fiscal year 2012-13 seek funding of $3.03 billion for Correctional Service of Canada, an increase of $44.2 million, or a slight 1.5% increase over the previous fiscal year.
As the committee knows, our government's new laws to tackle crime are starting to end the revolving door of justice by keeping dangerous criminals behind bars longer. But what is more important to note is that our efforts have not resulted in the significant increase in the number of federal prisoners predicted by officials or indeed in the outrageous figures that certain members of the opposition predicted. They indicated that there would be a $19 billion increase in capital costs and $3 billion to $4 billion in operating costs.
Now, due to this reality, the determination was made to close two federal prisons—Kingston and Leclerc. Despite the misinformation being put out by various special interest groups, I can confirm for all the committee that our government has not built a single new prison and has no intention of building a single new prison. We did build the 2,700 individual units in various prisons, and that was announced in early 2010. These closures will save the government approximately $120 million per year, and combined with the fact that the offender population has not increased as CSC expected, we expect that CSC's future appropriation requests will be significantly reduced.
The main estimates for 2012-13 also request funds of $1.78 billion for the Canada Border Services Agency. This represents a decrease of $70.4 million, or 4% over the previous year. The CBSA's decrease in net spending is due to a decrease in operating costs of $61.8 million, a decrease in capital costs of $9.2 million, and an increase of $0.6 million in statutory costs.
This fiscal year's main estimates request moderate increases or decreases in funding for the other Public Safety portfolio agencies. The funding requests are: $520.6 million for CSIS, and that's an increase of $11.6 million over the previous year; $51.5 million for the National Parole Board, an increase of $2.3 million, or 4.5%, over the previous year; $4.7 million for the Office of the Correctional Investigator, an increase of 8% over the previous year; $0.9 million for the RCMP external review committee; and $5.4 million for the Commission for Public Complaints Against the RCMP, a decrease of less than 1% over the previous fiscal year.
Mr. Chair and members of the committee, Canadians have made it clear that protecting our children and our communities is one of their top priorities. Our government is listening, and it has made that its priority as well. l'm sure you would agree that this is one of the most important responsibilities of government. The spending plans outlined in these main estimates will help us meet that obligation. These expenditures are critical to ensuring that the men and women on the front lines of the Public Safety portfolio continue to have the tools and resources they need to do their job in a time of fiscal restraint.
I trust that we can count on this committee's continued support for this work. I welcome any questions you may have at this time.