Skip to main content

Evolving justice system gets strategic and widespread Alberta support, minister says

Alberta Premier Danielle Smith and Justice Minister Mickey Amery stand together during the swearing in of her cabinet in Edmonton on Friday, June 9, 2023. Amery says a new justice plan is earning support throughout the government. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson Alberta Premier Danielle Smith and Justice Minister Mickey Amery stand together during the swearing in of her cabinet in Edmonton on Friday, June 9, 2023. Amery says a new justice plan is earning support throughout the government. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jason Franson
Share

A changing and diverse justice system – beyond the courtroom – has earned government support across much of the province, Alberta Justice Minister Mickey Amery said in an interview last week.

“I want our justice system to encompass more than just prisons and prosecutions,” said Amery. “So I wanted to be able to reach out to the community and say that there are many different ways we could achieve appropriate justice in this province, without always having matters land before a judge in a courtroom.”

In all, 39 organizations are sharing $961,000 in funding announced May 2 under the Alberta Community Justice Grant program. Twenty-one are based beyond Edmonton and Calgary

The northern-most of the one-time grants goes to Woodland Cree First Nation northeast of Peace River, allotted $25,000 to train community members in the formal use of restorative justice and asset-based community development.

The Sweetgrass Youth Alliance in Lethbridge represents the southern-most pin on the approvals map, getting $25,000 to conduct a needs assessment for a youth restorative justice program.

Creating a New Hope for Youth program is the aim of funding worth $17,776 awarded to the Town of Whitecourt, targeting youths aged 13 to 17 who are facing the justice system.

Greenwood Neighbourhood Place in Sundre gets $5,000 for volunteer training and improving community awareness of the programming it encompasses, which is built upon honouring seniors and fostering healthy families and resilient children. Over time, the neighbourhood place has become a community information and referral hub.

The Town of Cochrane is using its $25,000 to write a bylaw allowing municipal peace officers to manage low-risk offences, aimed at reducing offender involvement in the justice system.

Cold Lake First Nations is putting $25,000 in provincial money towards a needs assessment for a community justice project. Shining Mountains Living Community Services in Red Deer is spending its $25,000 on developing the Red River Cart wellness assessment model, which helps people reflect on the values, habits and teachings of their parents.

Amery said these and other grants of $5,000 to $25,000 were selected from hundreds of applicants.

“I’m positively surprised by the level of engagement we received,” he said.

He praised department staff for “a remarkable job” assessing the quality of the applications and tying grants to what the program is intended to deliver.

“And that is, ultimately, community justice,” said Amery, the UCP member for Calgary-Cross.

“We know that there are organizations on the ground, and they're certainly doing great things in their respective communities."

From there, the question became: “How can we help empower you with a grant to help you develop programs, or develop techniques or raise education or awareness in your communities?”

Although the grants themselves are one-time, success breeds success, Amery’s comments suggested.

“I think that the level of uptake and the level of applications and engagement we received were certainly a testament to how good this program is initially and how good it's going to be in the future as funding flows and the programs become implemented.”

Approval criteria include providing feedback to the government on how the funding works out. Assessments and data in the province’s hands will inform future justice programming and support, Amery said.

“Our partners on the ground, who are serving their communities and groups, are in the best position to hear and understand and deliver feedback."

After assessments come back in a year, the province will “recalibrate and see where we’re at.”

CTVNews.ca Top Stories

Oilers rally to beat Stars, tie Western Conference Final

With the Edmonton Oilers down two goals late in the first period of Game 4, Rogers Place was quiet, fans seemingly bewildered at the early, quick scoring of the Dallas Stars and the slow start by the home team. Ryan McLeod's marker with six-and-a-half minutes in the opening frame left changed all that.

Stay Connected