NB Public Safety Minister caught off guard by federal policy change
MONCTON – New Brunswick Public Safety Minister Stephen Horsman told Global News Friday that he first heard about a federal decision to transfer responsibility for inmates at Shepody Healing Centre to the province through the media.
As reported on Wednesday, Corrections Services Canada told Global News: “inmates deemed not criminally responsible who require hospital-level care will be returned to provincial responsibility. CSC will be working in collaboration with government officials in the Province of New Brunswick for the safe transfer of these offenders.”
Horsman said he did not agree with the change.
“It sounded like the federal government are in budget restraints, as the provinces are, and they’re trying to cut down and give more responsibility to the provincial governments,” Horsman said, adding he has reached out to Federal Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney. “We’re not approving of this,” he said.
One of the inmates in question is Gregory Despres, who was found guilty, but not criminally responsible in the brutal murders of Fred Fulton, 74, and Verna Decarie, 70 in 2005.
Despres has been at Shepody since 2008. In New Brunswick, Restigouche Hospital in Campbellton would be the most likely place that could take Despres, but Horsman said he does not believe the hospital provides the necessary security.
He said his main priority is making sure everyone in the province felt safe and said he had reached out to the family of Gregory Despres’ victims,
Mary Kennedy-Fulton, Fred’s daughter-in-law confirmed to Global News Friday evening that the Minister had spoken with her and she was confident that they were all on the same page.
Kennedy-Fulton and her family have fought several times to stop Despres from being transferred to Restigouche Hospital.
Horsman said Friday he does not know what will be happening moving forward, but he will be reaching out to ministers in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island to act together to oppose the federal policy change.
He said he is unsure how many inmates at Shepody are from each province and doesn’t know how many inmates New Brunswick would potentially be responsible for.
“We want to sit down. We want to speak with Federal Minister Blaney. We are reaching out to him and to show him that we are not happy with the situation,” Horsman said.
“Our hands might be tied on certain things,” Horsman said. “Everybody is making tough decisions. Everybody is trying to cut down. Everybody is trying to save a dollar… But I want the public to understand my number one priority is to keep them safe and keep them out of harm’s way.”
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