Former justice minister Suzanne Anton meets with three deputy sheriffs during their training session at the Vancouver Law Courts. (Black Press files)

BC BUDGET: NDP hope to nix court delays with $15 million cash influx

Union says funding could stop sheriffs from leaving for higher paid jobs

Multi-year court delays could be done as the government pledges $15 million to hire more sheriffs and admin staff in the 2018 budget.

The province has struggled with a sheriff shortage for years and the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union said that between 2012 and 2016, at least 20 sheriffs left for higher-paid jobs.

Union president Stephanie Smith said that retention, rather than recruitment, has been the issue.

“They’re running a lot of training [courses] but as soon as they’re trained they’re being poached into other policing services,” said Smith.

“We do have a real crisis in the sheriff numbers.”

The shortages led to six courtroom delays and eight closures between fall 2016 and spring 2017.

READ: Kamloops sheriffs being flown into Victoria to deal with shortage

Smith said she was relieved that part of the $15 million announced Tuesday will go towards hiring support staff.

“That causes just as much delay as when you don’t have a sheriff in your courtroom,” said Smith.

Finance Minister Carol James said she was committed to increasing “access to affordable, quality” legal help.

“Over the years, cuts to legal aid and reductions in family law services have left people without legal representation and torn families apart,” she said.

The province is spending $10 million over three years to pay for new family dispute resolution services, as well as improve online access for remote parts of the province.

They’re also spending $26 million to expand legal aid, $11 million of which will go to expand the Parents Legal Centre.

The centre helps with providing quick solutions to family law disputes and access to mediation.

One already exists in Vancouver; another is set to launch in Surrey.

The funding follows recommendations from Grand Chief Ed John’s recommendations on Indigenous child welfare.

West Coast Leaf said they were disappointed with the meager additional funding.

“The additional funding for dispute resolution fall far short of the need for legal representation,” they noted in a release.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Housing crisis amplified on Denman Island

High home and rental prices and a shortage of housing stock have led to island-wide struggles

Folk legend Arlo Guthrie returns to Vancouver Island MusicFest

Island MusicFest executive producer Doug Cox went to the well one more… Continue reading

Changes coming to CVRD watering restrictions

The changes will come into effect in May

Comox marijuana bylaw vote set for today

A decision on a contentious Comox bylaw surrounding the plan to temporarily… Continue reading

VIDEO: Work is play for this B.C. avalanche rescue dog

CARDA certified Joss’s Job is to save lives — but to her, it’s all a game

CONTEST: Win a whale-watching tour for four

Where in the world are the Snowbirds?

Government has no solution for dangerous stretch of Highway 1

Columbia River-Revelstoke MLA Doug Clovechok met with the Ministry to talk about the dangers around Highway 1

B.C. couple caught in Kootenay Pass avalanche

Just after the ministry carried out avalanche control and opened the highway a Rossland couple was almost swept away by snow

Lance Armstrong settles $100M lawsuit with U.S. government

Disgraced cyclist reached $5-million settlement with sponsor U.S. Postal Service

2 B.C. men deemed heroes for saving man from fire

Fire on Coronation Avenue in Duncan sends one man to hospital

B.C. has highest C-section rate in Canada: report

Researcher says it’s not necessarily a bad thing

Courtenay council approves five-year financial plan

Larry Jangula, Manno Theos oppose plan

Whistler to open Canada’s first pod hotel

Pangea Pod Hotel to feature units big enough to fit a queen-sized mattress and not much else

Most Read