Ontario budget 2024: OPP getting 4 helicopters to help deal with ‘serious’ crime

The Ford government has tabled the most expensive budget in Ontario's history, with a $214 billion spending package and a ballooning deficit. But as Tina Yazdani reports, critics say the budget fails to make significant investments in key sectors.

As provincial government officials describe a rise in violent crimes and police response times in the Greater Toronto Area, OPP officers are set to receive four new helicopters as part of the 2024 Ontario budget.

The Ford government is spending $46 million to buy the four helicopters and provide operational funding over the next three years. It was unclear how the helicopters would be funded after the three years.

The document said the units would be available to respond to “major incidents and serious crimes,” citing examples like street racing, impaired driving, assisting with arresting high-risk suspects, helping marine units with search and rescue efforts and finding missing persons.

Although the helicopters will be operated by the OPP, officials said the units would be available to assist municipal police services in the GTA.

The only police services in the GTA currently with helicopter units are York Regional Police and Durham Regional Police.

Officials also said the OPP helicopter units are meant to help respond to auto theft and carjackings.

The government also underscored a $49-million, three-year investment to help create a dedicated OPP organized crime towing and auto theft task force along with dedicated Crown legal resources to prosecute major theft cases.

When asked about the new helicopters, Ontario NDP leader Marit Stiles said there should have been more funding to deal with overcrowding at courthouses and jails in the province.

“I didn’t see anything in here that solves that problem. I was really astonished,” she told reporters.

“The government says they care a lot about law and order, but we don’t see those investments in our court system which is why if anybody gets away with anything it’s because of that.

“Frankly, innocent people are also getting left behind in court, in jails waiting for justice.”

There was no specific mention in the budget of new money to address the issues Stiles raised. However, the financial blueprint touted a past expansion of the Brampton courthouse and noted a $250-million, three-year program will see repairs done at courthouses, detention centres, public labs and offices.

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