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

COMMUTER ALERT: Serious pedestrian crash closes Pacific Highway

Traffic along 176th Street, 4th to 8th Avenue, is blocked while Mounties continue to investigate.

Giants owner Ron Toigo to get BC Sports Hall of Fame W.A.C. Bennett Award

Head of Langley-based hockey team to be honoured at May induction gala

UPDATED: Touching note left on Langley veteran’s windshield

A veteran hopes the writers of a note know how much he was touched by their kind words. They do.

VIDEO: Young Langley boy uses his grief to help other kids suffering loss

Thursday Langley Hospice hosts its Paint the Town Blue campaign to spotlight child bereavement.

LETTER: Canada should not be selling weapons abroad

A Langley man is critical of Canada for selling arms that are being used to kill civilians.

People flocking to Vancouver Island city to see hundreds of sea lions

Each year the combination of Steller and California sea lions take over Cowichan Bay

5 to start your day

A choice on light rail versus SkyTrain for Surrey, a Chilliwack teacher suspended for touching a colleague’s buttocks and more

EU divorce deal in peril after two UK Cabinet ministers quit

Negotiators from Britain and the European Union have struck a proposed divorce deal that will be presented to politicians on both sides for approval, officials in London and Brussels said Tuesday.

Feds respond to sexual assault investigation at B.C. naval base

Report of Oct. 5 sexual assault on Vancouver Island base taken over by Canadian Forces National Investigation Service

Northern California fire death toll at 56; 130 missing

Many of the missing are elderly and from Magalia, a forested town of about 11,000 to the north of Paradise.

Canfor to buy 70 per cent stake in Swedish Vida Group for $580 million

The privately held company has nine sawmills in southern Sweden with an annual production capacity of 1.1 billion board feet.

Saudi prosecutor seeks death penalty in Khashoggi’s killing

Saudi Arabia’s top prosecutor is recommending the death penalty for five suspects charged with ordering and carrying out the killing of Saudi writer Jamal Khashoggi.

Mixing business and family: Trudeau turns to Singapore ancestors to widen trade

Trudeau’s ancestor, Esther Bernard, born Farquhar (1796-1838) was the daughter of Major-General William Farquhar (1774-1839), the first British Resident and Commandant of Singapore.

Baloney Meter: Will tougher penalties for gang members make Canada safer?

Since 2013, gang-related homicides in Canada’s largest cities have almost doubled

Most Read