Vic Toews, Minister of Public Safety speaks to the media at Parliament Hill in Ottawa Dec 11, 2012. (ANDRE FORGET/QMI AGENCY)
OTTAWA - The government moved Tuesday to make informants feel safer by strengthening the federal witness protection program.
"We ... know that the most serious organized crime groups are very secretive and often pose unique challenges for law enforcement officials because they can be difficult to integrate," Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said.
The long-overdue overhaul introduced in the Commons follows talks with the provinces and territories, and would enhance protection for informants and also protect the identities of witness handlers.
The program is run by the RCMP and cost $9.1 million in 2011-12.
The changes would better integrate provincial programs with the federal system and make it easier for witnesses to secure new identities.
The program will also expand to include national security, national defence and public safety sources and would extend the amount of time "emergency protection" may be provided, said Toews.