NDP, advocate call for action on gangs and crystal meth

The NDP is calling on the Sask. Party government to address the factors fueling crime in our province, which is leaving many people feeling unsafe in their communities. The latest crime severity statistics highlight the seriousness of the problem, including a dramatic increase in meth-related incidents. Saskatoon and Regina both place in the worst four Canadian cities for crime severity, with an increase in shootings in Regina and several recent homicides in Saskatoon. NDP Leader Ryan Meili joined Shane Partridge, safety coordinator for the Pleasant Hill Community Association and a member of the Okihtcitawak Patrol Group, in calling on the government to introduce a province-wide gang strategy.   

"It’s hard to think of anything worse than not feeling safe in your own home, but that’s how many people are feeling seeing these crime severity and meth-related incident numbers,” said Meili. “If we want to provide a safer community for everyone, we need to address the root causes of crime, like poverty and addiction. This government needs to stop dragging its feet and put together a provincial gang strategy that addresses the causes of crime, not just the symptoms.”

Saskatchewan received $11.9 million from the federal government earlier this year to address gangs and gun violence in the province, but has shared few details of how that money would be spent.

Meanwhile, Saskatchewan’s meth crisis continues to fuel crime across the province. Saskatoon had 249 meth incidents reported in 2018, a 500 per cent increase from 2014. In Regina, the increase was even worse. There were 106 methamphetamine-related incidents reported in 2018 compared to just seven in 2014, an increase of more than 1,400 per cent. 

On July 8, Mental Health Critic Danielle Chartier sent a letter to the Minister of Corrections and Policing to raise her concerns and call for a comprehensive provincial gang strategy that goes beyond enforcement and criminalization, but Chartier has yet to receive a response.

“This government has been letting people down, and letting the addiction crisis in Saskatchewan get out of control,” said Meili. “This inaction plays a huge role in these crime numbers. People are suffering and it’s long past time serious action was taken.”

Shane Partridge, safety coordinator for the Pleasant Hill Community Association and a member of the Okihtcitawak Patrol Group, has seen first-hand the need for a gang strategy in Saskatchewan.

“The province isn’t doing enough to help those who are trying to turn their lives around,” said Partridge. “We need a comprehensive strategy to address the uncertainty, stress and lack of opportunity that leave people turning to gangs. A gang strategy would give us the roadmap we need to make a change in so many lives.”