There was little new spending in B.C.’s 2023 budget for public safety, with much of it announced within days of David Eby being sworn in as premier in the fall, but the document confirmed it’s a large spending priority for his government.
The expanded enforcement, intervention, and court funding totals $462 million. That is being bolstered by other investments in health care and housing to address the root causes of crime and what is often described as “street disorder.”
The B.C.Communities Action Plan announced in November includes $230 million to hire 256 more RCMP officers, with an emphasis on rural and remote Indigenous communities.
In programs that have yet to roll out, $87 million will go toward a Repeat Violent Offending Intervention Initiative and a Special Investigation and Targeted Enforcement program to address repeat offending and criminal justice response. Indigenous justice centres will get $80 million over three years for 10 new centres.
In new funding, $25 million will go toward consultation and public engagement to assess the modernization of policing in B.C., while $21 million will go toward enforcement and streamlining of cannabis licensing. Another $19 million over three years will evaluate the implementation of decriminalization of small amounts of illicit drugs; “reducing stigma” is also cited as a goal of this funding.
Of the budget’s $1.5 billion, three-year plan to respond to and reduce homelessness, $228 million will go to “establish new regional multi-disciplinary teams to support rapid response for regions responding to substantial encampments.”
The Independent Investigations Office, which investigates death or serious harm involving police, and has been criticized for long waits for its findings is also getting a $2 million per year boost to its budget.
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