Thunder Bay – That old adage an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure seems lost on far too many. In Thunder Bay as noted by Police Chief JP Lesveque, many of the crimes in our city are fueled by addictions to drugs, alcohol and other substances. An incident this past weekend, involving the beating and stabbing of a 50 year old by a 26 year old is yet another classic case of how not treating a person for an addiction can lead to greater problems.
Informed sources share with NetNewsledger.com that the suspect in a Friday night beating and stabbing has a long history of alcohol abuse issues. Those problems started when the individual was very young, and have remained untreated.
There are several instances where looking past the reports on crime in our city to ask questions about how the crime could have been prevented lead to how having increased facilities in our community to treat people with addiction problems are what is needed.
There always seems to be tax-dollars for many things, but in Thunder Bay there is a serious lack of facilities to treat people suffering from addictions. The long-term cost is more money spent on housing people in correctional facilities, greater demands on our police services, and on our courts. While there are some who see the new courthouse facility in the downtown Fort William core as a success, perhaps what it really represents is a beacon to our collective failure to address crime on a prevention level.
Speaking at Thunder Bay Atikokan MPP Bill Mauro’s nomination meeting last spring, Premier Dalton McGuinty commented on the investment of “$500,000,000.00” in the courthouse is a positive investment in Thunder Bay. Perhaps if $100,000,00 were to be invested in a drug and alcohol treatment facility we would see less demand for a courthouse?
Similar issues happen at other levels. Eighteen months ago, a couple in our community were visited by Thunder Bay Police, Dilico officials and paramedics. The couple’s children were taken from the parents and put in foster care. The reason, the children, all under the age of five were running around their neighbourhood after midnight naked. The parents were engaged in drinking, and doing illegal drugs.
While the children were taken from an obviously insecure and unsafe environment, nothing in terms of support was provided to either parent to break the cycle of addiction to drugs, or alcohol. The parents were left, for all intents and purposes to continue on the downward cycle of addiction.
In that case, the father eventually, a year later came to the conclusion he needed to get off drugs. He sought to get into a treatment program. He sent in papers applying to get into a program. Over two months went by, still there wasn’t any space open for him to get into a program.
That person eventually ended up arrested in a break and enter and is currently serving 18 months in jail. The cost to taxpayers is likely including police, courts, and jail-time, almost $200,000.00. An ounce of prevention in this case could have saved hundreds of thousands of tax dollars.
It might be nice to suggest that things are changing, but at the base level, they are still where they were years ago. Thunder Bay remains with a problem with crime, remains without enough treatment facilities, and the problem continues.
So, what should we do?
The answers are not simple. First of all, we need to do more for youth in our community. We need to enhance opportunities showing our community’s positive opportunities.
At the policing level, the Thunder Bay Police Service has an amazing record of catching criminals. That kind of dedication and expertise needs to be expanded into crime prevention.
At the City Hall level, it is time for action, the time for talk needs to wrap up and we need Councillors to step up and get cracking on solutions. There needs to be some serious work done by Council, our MPPs and MPs to work to bring proper treatment facilities into Thunder Bay.
Perhaps then we can start turning the corner on this issue and start making an impact that will result in a better Thunder Bay.