Kevin Page cautioned that his cost analysis is not an exact science, but rather a "high-level estimation" because he says he was stonewalled by the government in his efforts to secure the needed data.
"I knew incarceration was expensive, but when we actually did the calculation ... you get big numbers in a hurry," said Mr. Page, the parliamentary budget officer.
Mr. Page, at the request of the Opposition Liberals, analyzed the cost of one piece of crime-and-punishment legislation, which came into force in February.
The Truth in Sentencing Act, which ends a practice of giving an offender credit on a two-for one-basis for time served in pre-trial custody, will more than double annual correction costs to $9.5-billion by the fiscal year 2015-16, the report says.
An additional 4,000 inmates will be in the federal prison system at any one time, with construction costs for new facilities estimated at $10-billion.
As well, there will be a sharp spike in provincial costs, more than doubling in the next five years largely as a result of the need to build jails to accommodate
an increase in short-term inmates, says the report.
The elimination of the standard two-for-one credit for pre-trial custody was a key plank of the Conservatives' law and order platform.
The government initially estimated the additional cost as $89-million over one year. This spring that was bumped up to $2-billion over five years.
The data released by Mr. Page suggest the additional cost is much higher. But the actual amount of extra time incarcerated due to the reduction in pre-trial credit may be less than expected.
A federal inmate would be held in prison for an additional 159 days on average, or about five months, as a result of the changes, the report says. That is because the inmates in the federal system are on average, serving terms that make them eligible for parole 30 months after they have been sentenced in addition to any pre-trial custody.
People serving terms of less than two years in a provincial jail would spend an additional 36 days or about five weeks in custody. According to Statistics Canada, about half of the inmates in provincial jails are serving sentences of one month or less, usually for relatively minor offences.
Liberal public safety critic Mark Holland noted that the report only covers one bill. The Conservative crime bills will be "crippling" for the taxpayer, he said.
There were contrasting responses to the findings that the legislation will significantly increase provincial costs.
"Our government fully recognizes that Ontarians want safe communities and that there is a cost attached to ensuring this occurs," said Laura Blondeau, a spokeswoman for Rick Bartolucci, Ontario Public Safety Minister. "Ontario will continue to do its part, but full expects measures initiated by the federal government will be accompanied by the resources needed for implementation," she said.
BY THE NUMBERS
All figures as of the fiscal year 2015-16. Source: Parliamentary Budget Officer.
46 Percentage increase in annual operational costs at federal prisons.
3,754 Number of additional inmates in federal institutions on an average day.
13 New federal prisons that will need to be constructed to accommodate additional inmates.
159 Additional days in custody for the average inmate in a federal prison as a result of the end of two-for-one pre-trial credit.
We should not be further limiting judicial discretion, when it comes to granting double time credit. This elimination will cause further prison overcrowding and costs far too much money. Imprisoning more people for longer periods does not reduce or prevent crime. We need to address the root causes and contributing factors through more social programming. Double time credit acknowledged the harsh and crowded conditions in pre-trial detention facilities and the lack of rehabilitation and recreational programming or activities.