Excerpt from a speech by Liberal MLA Mike Morris (Prince George-Mackenzie) on Monday, Feb. 26, 2018 during debate on the provincial budget:
M. Morris: In examining the budget and the allocations within the budget, the actual budget for policing and security has decreased by $5.6 million for the upcoming fiscal year. It’s gone down $5.6 million, even though the Premier had committed to an extra $31.3 million. Even though this government has said they’re going to put more money into fentanyl issues, which the police have a significant responsibility for. Even though there are 18 pieces of legislation that are going to be impacted by the legalization of cannabis and marijuana in this province. There was no extra money. It decreased.
Again, I feel sorry for the police managers out there trying to figure out how they are going to meet the needs of the public, meet the needs of their investigations, with less money. And it’s not only less money in the budget but less money to use because they’re paying this health tax, they’re paying the carbon tax, and who knows what other taxes might be impacting on the delivery of services for our communities across the province.
Looking at priorities of this government with respect to public safety. I look at provincial detachments like Vanderhoof, which has a criminal caseload of 113 criminal case files per police officer in Vanderhoof. There are other detachments. Takla Landing has over 100 as well, and there are a number of provincial detachments that do have high caseloads like that.
In my experience as a police officer, once a constable or a police officer gets much over 40 or 50 criminal files in addition to his or her workload, it becomes an impossibility to provide proper investigations and proper rigour to those investigations, just because of the nature of criminal investigations in these days.
We have remote communities that are suffering from a higher-than-average incidence of domestic abuse, sexual abuse, alcohol dependence and persons crimes in general, which take a greater amount of effort and resources to investigate. In communities that have seen an exodus of young women escaping to larger communities from the life they had there, with alcohol and the sexual abuse, only to succumb to some more tragic circumstances as they move into an urban environment….
When we look at that and then we look at the government’s priority now — the member before me was commenting on it — to invest $50 million to preserve Indigenous languages…. It’s important. In all of the First Nations communities that I’ve lived in, Indigenous languages were important.
But here we have people suffering every day from alcohol abuse and domestic violence and sexual abuse, and preserving languages is a higher priority than putting that money into extra policing resources. From a risk management perspective, I think that this really needs to be re-examined.
We add to the mix the elimination of our Greyhound bus routes now, a significant safety measure for people travelling throughout rural British Columbia, northern British Columbia, particularly in the wintertime.
We’ve had a lot of snowfall in rural B.C. We’ve had some cold weather. That is a lifeline for a lot of people from our First Nations communities, from our smaller remote communities throughout rural B.C. It’s gone. It’s eliminated. And nothing in the budget speech, nothing to determine this a priority for government to look at.
Source: BC Hansard