FREDERICTON (GNB) – The provinces joined together at the 2022 meeting of Federal, Provincial and Territorial Ministers Responsible for Justice and Public Safety to discuss the federal government’s plan to use police resources to confiscate legally acquired firearms.

New Brunswick, Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba called on the federal government to halt plans to use scarce RCMP and municipal police resources to confiscate over 100,000 legally acquired firearms from Canadians. The Prairie provinces had already written to their RCMP divisions indicating that provincial funding should not be used for that purpose.

“New Brunswick’s bottom line is this: RCMP resources are spread thin as it is,” said Public Safety Minister Kris Austin. “We have made it clear to the Government of Canada that we cannot condone any use of those limited resources, at all, in their planned buyback program.

The four provinces also called on the federal government to ensure that no funding for the Guns and Gang Violence Action Fund or other public safety initiatives be diverted to the federal firearms confiscation program. Instead, they said, funding should be used to fight the criminal misuse of firearms by addressing border integrity, smuggling and trafficking.

The four provinces also called on the federal government to direct all communications related to the federal firearms confiscation program through appropriate channels.

“Two years ago, the federal government said that using police resources would be ‘expensive and inefficient,” said Alberta Justice Minister and Solicitor General Tyler Shandro. “Now the federal government has resorted to using police resources to seize firearms from Canadians. Make no mistake, the federal firearms confiscation program will cost us billions and will not improve public safety. Alberta’s government is not legally obligated to provide resources and will not do so.”

“While we fully support crime initiatives that focus on the issues related to the criminal use of illegal firearms, preventing and combatting gang violence and addressing the issue of illegal or smuggled guns in our province, we don’t support those that impact law-abiding hunters, sport shooters, ranchers, farmers and Indigenous people who use firearms for lawful and good reasons,” said Saskatchewan Corrections, Policing and Public Safety Minister Christine Tell along with Justice and Attorney General for Saskatchewan Bronwyn Eyre.

“Manitoba has consistently stated that many aspects of the federal approach to gun crimes unnecessarily target lawful gun owners while having little impact on criminals, who are unlikely to follow gun regulations in any event,” said Manitoba Justice Minister and Attorney General Kelvin Goertzen. “In Manitoba’s view, any buy-back program cannot further erode our scarce provincial police resources, already suffering from large vacancy rates, and away from focusing on investigation of violent crimes.”