Province to pay a portion of $1.1M cost to fund new provincial firearms office

Saskatchewan taxpayers will be on the hook for a portion of the cost for the new provincially-appointed chief firearms officer.

Ottawa covered the full cost when the position was federally appointed

Robert Freberg is Saskatchewan's new chief firearms officer. (CBC)

Saskatchewan taxpayers will be on the hook for a portion of the cost for the new provincially-appointed chief firearms officer.

In the past, the position was federally appointed and the federal government footed the bill of approximately $1.1 million per year, which pays for both the officer's salary and the cost to run his office.

Going forward, the Saskatchewan Ministry of Corrections and Policing said a contribution agreement will be put in place under which the federal government will share a portion of the cost with the province, but a representative said it's too early to say what that amount might be.

This is the first time Saskatchewan has appointed the position instead of Ottawa.

The plan to do so was first announced in March and the Ministry of Corrections and Policing reiterated the decision in May when the federal government announced its firearms ban.

Robert Freberg, who used to run a private security company, has been appointed. His office will be responsible for the licensing, transporting and carrying of guns in this province.

Freberg said at a media conference on Tuesday that he can't change the federal laws, but will speak out on behalf of Saskatchewan residents. He also said he expects part of his work will be to communicate the new legislation to firearms owners in the province.

Freberg is experienced with firearms, with a background in hunting and sport shooting. He has also been involved with the Saskatoon Wildlife Federation and helped establish firing ranges in the Saskatoon area.

Despite being a firearms enthusiast himself, he said he's going to listen to the concerns of all Saskatchewan residents, whether they're pro-firearms or not.

"It's not going to be a one-sided matter," he said. "And anyone who's ever done any work with me in the past will know that I'm pretty open to listening to those points of view and coming up with a consensus that makes sense."

Assault-style ban 'controversial,' says minister

Corrections and Policing Minister Christine Tell said at Tuesday's news conference that the recent changes to firearms legislation are "indeed controversial in this province."

Tell said she doesn't expect the new position to change the laws, but that she does hope Freberg will advocate on behalf of Saskatchewan residents.

"This is not a magic elixir ... to fix all that ails us in the province of Saskatchewan and across the country with law abiding firearms owners," Tell said. "It is one step, one initiative we can undertake to, at the very least, have our position, our needs, our concerns advocated for and spoken to with authority in the federal government."

The office is currently in a transition phase, but both Tell and Freberg stressed that there would be no gap in services for firearms owners.


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