Timmins mayor says crime is up because more people are being released from jail

Timmins city council is calling on provincial and federal governments to review the bail system after a rise in petty crime in the city during the pandemic.

Calls to Timmins Police are down in 2020, but break and enters and mischief calls are up

Timmins Police have seen an increase in break and enters and mischief in 2020, eventhough the number of calls overall is down from last year. (Erik White/CBC )

The mayor of Timmins says some crimes are on the rise in his city because more criminals are being released from jail.

Bail is being granted to more inmates and accused awaiting trial to avoid overcrowding in jails during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It's also generally easier to be granted bail since the federal government passed Bill C-75 last year.

"Which may have been good intended, but the results have been deleterious," says Timmins Mayor George Pirie, describing the two bail policies as a "perfect storm."

Timmins Police has received 1,151 fewer calls this year, but has responded to 295 break and enters compared with 218 last year. Mischief calls are also up to 135 from 99 in 2019.

City council passed a motion this week calling on the provincial and federal governments to review the bail system and find a way to keep communities safe.

"You've got to review this policy, because it's certainly not the right policy for the municipalities. In combination with COVID-19 and all the loosening of the regulations, it's had a severe impact on our crime stats," says Pirie.

A retired mining executive, George Pirie made his first foray into politics in 2018, when he unseated incumbent Steve Black to become mayor of Timmins. (Erik White/CBC )

Even during the pandemic, he says the province should find a way to keep more criminals behind bars. 

"I'm really confident that if the Solicitor General wanted to find room for the individuals and to keep them safe, I'm sure that could be found," says Pirie. 

"In a perfect world what you want is these individuals released from incarceration with resources, not just to simply end up back on the street."

Sault Ste. Marie police have also been very critical of the looser bail restrictions and the "catch and release" cycle they find themselves in with repeat offenders. 

Greater Sudbury police say they have actually seen break and enters and mischief calls go down in 2020, but are responding to more calls about illegal drugs, weapons, arson and landlord-tenant disputes. 


Erik White


Erik White is a CBC journalist based in Sudbury. He covers a wide range of stories about northern Ontario. Connect with him on Twitter @erikjwhite. Send story ideas to


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