Welcome to my Crime and Justice blog! I am a 19 year old criminal justice student at the University of Winnipeg. I advocate for prisoners' rights, human rights, equality and criminal justice/prison system reforms.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Those with outstanding warrants, deserve to get welfare!

It shocks our system because it doesn’t happen very often but politicians occasionally are capable of good ideas.
Take MLA Kelvin Goertzen’s private member’s bill that would see serious offenders who breach conditions and are wanted by police be denied welfare benefits. Consider the current scenario: Criminals can breach orders, get warrants issued for them and all the while Manitoba taxpayers are paying them welfare benefits thanks to the generosity of our NDP government.
Nothing in Manitoba’s Employment and Income Assistance Act red flags welfare recipients who have outstanding warrants.
Neither Goertzen or Justice Minister Andrew Swan can say how many of these people are currently getting benefits but let’s face it, since the checks and balances aren’t present, there’s got to be plenty.
“Taxpayers should not have to provide a hand-out to dangerous criminals who are evading the law,” Goertzen, the Conservative justice critic said Tuesday. With between 10,000 and 12,000 outstanding warrants in the province, these scofflaws shouldn’t get a dime until they’ve reported to police and dealt with the warrant, Goertzen said.
Exactly. Why reward people for not wanting to amend their criminal ways? But the NDP continues to hand out the dough, as if it’s no big deal.
This isn’t about being against the province’s welfare system. The poorest citizens need to be taken care of as long as the benefits make financial sense and recipients follow the rules. If they break the rules, punishment is required.
Goertzen’s bill, if passed, must apply to only the most serious offences and violent crimes like serious assaults and sexual offences.
The idea for this bill comes hot on the heels of another one introduced by Goertzen last week that would prevent serious offenders who are in breach of their conditions from renewing their driver’s licences. Late last year the province of B.C. introduced similar welfare legislation which is scheduled to go into effect June 1.
“People who have outstanding warrants shouldn’t be getting welfare until they clean up the problem,” Rich Coleman, B.C.’s minister of housing and social development said.
The B.C. bill targeted warrants for offences such as murder, sexual assault and drug trafficking.
But enforcement is the problem.
In B.C. they are relying on criminals to disclose their outstanding legal issues when they apply for welfare. Trust the welfare recipient? No way. Any bill would have to make criminal background checks mandatory before financial assistance could be approved.
It’s a good idea but only a bill with teeth and tough enforcement is acceptable.

The government made this bill, with no research or evidence of how many individuals with outstanding warrants for serious crimes, are relying on social assistance. My guess is that it would be few. But if there are people like this receiving welfare, what's stopping the police from going to their residence and arresting them? We should be depriving and punishing people who are innocent until proven guilty. Some may not even know that there is a warrant out for their arrest. Plus, families of these individuals who also rely on the social assistance, would also suffer. We cannot label these individuals as criminals, because technically, they are innocent. 


  1. I had to read this and I have to say the legislation as it was being proposed is sound.

    Children are not safe staying with someone with warrants and requiring that they turn themselves in in order for those who need the protection (the children) to get it is reasonable.

    There are so many reasons this is reasonable and right - from getting old files cleared to removing work barriers from, those who have warrants that can be cleared easily but collect in order to hide.

    The only reason a government would go against this is politics, and those politics say those on assistance have the time inclination to vote will keep the ruling party in. Trust me when I say - I know what I am speaking about!

  2. So you are assuming that all individuals with outstanding warrants are dangerous? I have to disagree. You cannot make that assumption. There could be many circumstances surrounding the crime(s) they allegedly committed. They are not necessarily a danger to their children.

    This bill is far from reasonable and right. The government needs to do some research and find some statistics before proposing a bill like this. They do not even know how many individuals this bill would affect! That is crucial. Plus, if these people are receiving welfare, the police should know where they live and should have no problems arresting them. Why are they not doing that?

  3. Actually most people with warrants are not "technically innocent". Most warrants are for individuals who don't show up in court or to their probation officers. You are not presumed innocent of not showing up in court. If you are not there, you have breached and a warrant is issued, and that is why the welfare gets cut off. And the government does know how many people get welfare and have warrants. There is a difference between not wanting to disclose the information and not having that information.
    Also, as someone involved with the justice system, I can tell you the reason police don't just go and pick up a person is because there are 12,000 outstanding warrants and police show up to work with about 25-100 calls waiting for service. If you have to decide whether to respond to a break and enter or sit outside a house for 8 hours hoping someone with a warrant may show up, it's an easy choice. This is good legislation.

  4. Yes they are presumed innocent until PROVEN guilty. Proven, being the key word here. I agree most warrants are for people who do not show up in court, but they haven't been found guilty yet. The number of the people that this bill is attempting to target, is likely very few (warrants for those wanted for serious criminal offences AND relying on social assistance).

    Nobody should be denied welfare, regardless of their criminal record, past convictions, etc. I am an advocate for human rights, and that in my opinion, violates human rights.

    What's the harm in disclosing that information? Is that not needed in order to pass the bill? And how do you know that this information is known? Do you work for the government? If they want to disclose the stats, they should acknowledge that that is what they are doing, rather than not providing any information at all.

    I highly doubt that there are 12,000 outstanding warrants for those wanted for serious criminal offences AND who are relying on social assistance. My guess, is that that number is few. If the police truly believe that these people could be potentially dangerous, they should be arresting them.

    This legislation is discriminatory and unnecessary.