Thank you very much, Mr. Chair. I'll accept your remarks with respect to charm, but I'm afraid, with respect to looks, it's contrary to the evidence before us.
I'd like to thank the committee for the invitation today, and I'm pleased to present the 2021 supplementary estimates (C) and the 2021-22 main estimates for the public safety portfolio.
I'm very ably joined today by a number of my colleagues. Respectfully, in the interest of time, I will not introduce them, but I'd like to take the opportunity to acknowledge that, during these incredibly difficult and challenging times over the past year, they've all stepped up to the plate. They've been working diligently to keep our borders, communities and correctional institutions safe as well as to protect our national security.
Today, Mr. Chair, I believe these estimates reflect that work.
I'll go through the supplementary estimates (C) for 2021 in order to present these items chronologically. The approval of these estimates will result in funding approvals of $11.1 billion for the public safety portfolio, and that represents an increase of 3.3% over total authorities provided to date. I will briefly share some of the highlights here as they relate to how we manage our critical services during the pandemic.
The first is $135.8 million for the Correctional Service of Canada for critical operating requirements related to COVID-19.
The second is $35 million for Public Safety Canada, to support the urgent relief efforts of the Canadian Red Cross during the pandemic. Mr. Chair, as you know, the many volunteers and staff of the Canadian Red Cross have been there to support Canadians from the outset of this pandemic, including at long-term care homes right across the country.
I would ask this committee to join me in thanking them for all their service and for providing help where it was needed most. I’ll also note that this funding is in addition to the $35 million of vote 5 funding to Public Safety from Health Canada to support rapid response capacity testing being deployed to fill gaps in surge and targeted activities, including remote and isolated communities.
Included in these supplementary estimates is funding to enhance the integrity of our borders and asylum system while also modernizing the agency’s security screening system. This funding will ensure that security screening results are made available at the earliest opportunity under a reformed system.
I'd like to take this opportunity to highlight that CBSA employees have done a remarkable job in keeping our borders safe in response to COVID-19. I'd like to take the opportunity as well to thank them for their continued hard work in keeping Canadians safe.
We're also working through these supplementary estimates to increase funding to end violence against indigenous women and girls and to provide essential mental health services.
For the RCMP, we are investing significant funds through both the supplementary and main estimates to support improvements to the federal policing investigative capacity by bolstering its capability with additional policing professionals, investigators and scientists. This will be used to deal with federal policing initiatives, which include responding to money laundering, cybercrime such as child sexual exploitation, and national security such as responding to terrorism and foreign-influenced hostile activities.
Mr. Chair, if I may, I'll turn to the 2021-22 main estimates. The public safety portfolio, as a whole, is requesting a total of approximately $10 billion for this fiscal year. As I’ve previously noted, the portfolio funding has remained stable over the last few years. I will endeavour to break down the numbers by organization.
Public Safety Canada is seeking a total of $1.1 billion in the main estimates. This represents an increase of $329.9 million, or 45.5%, over the previous year. The bulk of this increase is due to the grants and contributions regarding the disaster financial assistance arrangements program, or DFAA. It’s an increase in funding based upon forecasts from provinces and territories for expected disbursements under the DFAA for this fiscal year. This represents a critical part of my portfolio as minister of Public Safety and Emergency Preparedness.
In these main estimates, increases also include $15 million for incremental funding to take action against gun and gang violence. As this committee knows, I introduced Bill C-21 in the House not very long ago, a bill designed to protect Canadians from firearm violence and to fulfill our promise of strengthening gun control.
Mr. Chair, I know that this committee will have the chance to review that legislation at some future date, and I look forward to discussing it with them at that time.
I want to focus on a number of ongoing issues and our responses to them, starting with Correctional Service of Canada, which is seeking $2.8 billion this fiscal year, which represents an increase of $239.8 million or 9.4% over the previous year. This net increase is primarily due to a net increase in operating funding, which includes an increase for transforming federal corrections as a result of the passage of the former Bill C-83, which introduced the new structured intervention unit model.
That bill represents a major change in the way our correctional institutions operate, and recent reports have been clear that more work must be done. Funding is just one part of the solution. With the creation of data teams, efforts to replicate best practices nationally and enhanced support from independent, external decision-makers, I am confident we will deliver on this transformational promise.
I want to again acknowledge the troubling findings that were made in the Bastarache report, which I know this committee has examined and reviewed with concern. We are seeking funds to establish the independent centre for harassment resolution. This will be responsible for implementing the full resolution process, including conflict management, investigations and decision-making.
Mr. Chair, we know more work needs to be done. I'd like to conclude by noting the importance of our oversight agencies. You will see in the main estimates that we are seeking to increase funding for the Office of the Correctional Investigator, the CRCC and the ERC, the latter by close to 100%.
With that, Mr. Chair, I thank you and the members of the committee for your patience as I delivered my opening remarks. I'm happy to answer questions that members may have about these estimates and the collective work of our portfolio.