Victim services threatened

Victim services in Burns Lake may contract without funding increase.

The Police Victims Service of B.C. (PVS) is the front-line civilian organization that works with local police forces to provide aid and care to the victims of crime or severe trauma.

The role of PVS often begins at a crime or accident scene, and continues through to following cases as they proceed through the courts, keeping victims informed and up-to-date of court proceedings.

Police Victim Services is not a version of legal aid. It doesn’t assist with the cases of those accused of perpetrating a crime. Its mandate is to provide support to the victims of those crimes.

Province-wide, PVS relies on staff and volunteers to run its 92 service locations in B.C.

In Burns Lake, the victim services unit is staffed by one full-time staffer, Cindy Wiebe, and a temporary assistant. Because of limited resources, PVS in Burns Lake does not participate in police call-outs or in the public education role that PVS plays in larger urban centres.

Wiebe recently made a presentation to Village of Burns Lake (VBL) council in support of expanding funding to the Burns Lake PVS.

Since January 2012 PVS has worked with 233 clients on 275 different files, mostly assisting in court-related processes. Burns Lake PVS has attended criminal court every time it is in session in Burns Lake, seven days a month, and attends supreme court in Smithers with clients.

The Village of Burns Lake currently funds the program with $13,638 annually. The province funds another $42,672, leaving $56,310 annually, which is completely consumed by payroll, benefit, program expense and training costs.

The PVS office is currently open four days per week, six hours each day. Demands on PVS sometimes means that Wiebe is forced into an overtime situation. When the demands of PVS extend beyond budgeted hours, PVS is forced close its doors while staff take time off in lieu of overtime pay.

A one-time funding opportunity allowed Wiebe to hire an assistant co-ordinator, but funding for that position will run out this December.

With a permanent assistant co-ordinator, PVS in Burns Lake could provide more services, like regular visits to the Southside Wellness Centre to serve clients there who lack transportation to Burns Lake.

A large percentage of PVS clients are rural-based, although the Regional District of Bulkley Nechako (RDBN) does not contribute anything to the PVS budget.

In 2012, almost 40 per cent of PVS clients were from either Area E or B. So far in 2013, 44 per cent of clients have been from those areas as well.

With the budget for PVS already constrained, VBL council is concerned that  the village tax base is subsidizing services for the region.

“The RDBN should split the cost,” Frank Varga, VBL councillor said. “It’s not fair to have the village tax base subsidizing rural areas.”

The RDBN only recently became aware of the statistics presented to council on Oct. 23, and initial talks between the VBL and RDBN directors of areas E and B have suggested a possible future cost sharing.

Mayor Luke Strimbold told council the RDBN was considering a top-up of the village contribution from $13,638 to $20,000, although talks with the RDBN are in preliminary stages and no proposal has been brought forward yet to the RDBN board of directors.

The extra $6,362 would not be enough for Burns Lake PVS to maintain a permanent assistant, and with the termination of that position, available service levels will decline.

Burns Lake PVS would need $30,831 annually to fund a permanent assistant. This is in addition to the $13,638 the village already contributes, bringing the annual total required to $44,469 beyond what the ministry of justice currently provides.

 

The village supports working with the RDBN, or other agencies, to fund Burns Lake PVS with a permanent assistant.

 

 

Just Posted

B.C. boosts 2018 wildfire recovery aid by $10 million

The British Columbia government has allocated an additional $10 million in support… Continue reading

Burns Lake marks 100 years since Armistice

Burns Lake residents on Nov. 11 held a Remembrance Day ceremony at… Continue reading

B.C. Legions in need of young members to continue aiding veterans into the future

Lest we forget what thousands of men and women did to fight for Canada’s freedoms – but without new membership, many Legion chapters face dwindling numbers

North Coast figure skater to star in Dancing On Ice

Carlotta Edwards learned to skate in Prince Rupert, before becoming a star with millions of viewers

Convicted man still not sentenced

A Southside offender, who has been convicted of touching for a sexual… Continue reading

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

Protesters confront Environment Minister in B.C.

Protesters wanting more for killer whales confront Catherine McKenna

Humans reshaping evolutionary history of species around the globe: paper

University of British Columbia researcher had the paper published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society

Toronto ‘carding’ activist Desmond Cole stopped by police in Vancouver

Cole says his experience reveals what daily life is like for black and Indigenous residents

Commercial trucks banned from left lane of Coquihalla

B.C.’s Ministry of Transportation has introduced a new program that hopes to prevent accidents and closures on the Coquihalla Highway.

B.C. on track to record same number of overdose deaths as last year

128 people died of overdoses in September, bringing the total to more than 1,100 so far in 2018

B.C. firefighters rescue horse stuck in mud

‘It happens more often than you’d think,’ says deputy chief

UPDATE: West Fraser to permanently reduce production in Quesnel, Fraser Lake

The move, due to log supply shortages, will affect 75 employees in Quesnel, 60 in Fraser Lake

Canadians more prepared for weather disaster than financial one: poll

RBC recommends people check their bank app as often as the weather app

Most Read