Legislation allows Warrant Intelligence Team to recommend suspending benefits for prolific violent offenders

(File photo/Jayda Taylor)

The province introduced legislation on Thursday to authorize a Warrant Intelligence Team to work with other government agencies to suspend benefits to and collect information on prolific violent offenders with active warrants.

The Warrant Compliance Act will give the Warrant Intelligence Team the authority to recommend government suspend benefits such as income support and social housing. Existing legislation in British Columbia and Manitoba similarly restricts benefits for offenders with outstanding warrants. 

“Following events in James Smith Cree Nation and Weldon, it is imperative that we enhance our ability to collect information on violent offenders with outstanding warrants,” Minister of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Christine Tell said in a press release.

“The Warrant Intelligence Team will work with other government agencies and police to collect this information, and ensure taxpayer dollars are not used to fund criminal lifestyles and activities.”

The Team will also work with Crown corporations and other ministries to request and collect information that can be provided to police to support apprehension efforts.

The Warrant Intelligence Team is currently being developed within the Ministry of Corrections, Policing and Public Safety. It is expected to be operational in fiscal 2023-24.

Warrant Intelligence Team staff will work closely with the Ministry of Social Services to reduce any unintended impacts a service suspension may have on an offender’s spouse or dependent children.

“It is important to ensure that the children and families of violent offenders aren’t unfairly impacted by their criminal behaviour,” Minister of Social Services Gene Makowsky added.

“Our ministry will help this new team improve community safety without creating any undue hardship for vulnerable Saskatchewan people.”

The Act includes safeguards to ensure that the Warrant Intelligence Team can only request limited information about specific prolific violent offenders, and that the information obtained must be used for the purpose of assisting with apprehension efforts.