NCLGA Backs Call for Reversal of DNA Cost Download Decision
Prince George, B.C.- The North Central Local Government Association (NCLGA) stands behind a call for the Province to reverse a decision that downloads costs for DNA analysis to municipalities.It is a move some communities say they may not be able to afford, and could have a negative impact on criminal investigations
Under the new agreement with the Federal Government, the Province is to pick up the tab for 46% of the costs of DNA analysis. Local governments in BC were not notified how the Province would fund the majority of its new costs until bills were sent out to communities.
“The Province will cover municipalities with populations under 5 000, but larger cities across BC now have to provide the remaining $2.90 million for 2016/17,” says NCLGA President Brian Frenkel. “There was no consultation with UBCM, or any of the 5 local government associations.”
In a letter to Justice Minister Suzanne Anton, Union of B.C. Municipalities’ President & Chair of the Cariboo Regional District, Al Richmond, questions why BC is the only province to download these costs, “While all provinces and territories are now faced with the same cost pressures related to DNA analysis services, I am not aware of any other province, other than British Columbia, that is shifting a portion of these costs to local government.”
Prince George, the NCLGA’s largest member, is expected to receive a bill for approximately $51,876.95 for the 2016/17 fiscal year.
Concerns have been raised about the future of crime reduction in municipalities who can no longer afford DNA testing services. Some communities are already expressing concern that DNA collected at crime scenes will only be “selectively tested” because of the costs involved, effectively stripping investigators of a useful tool in achieving a conviction for crime.
In the letter to the Minister of Justice, UBCM’s President Al Richmond presses for clarity “it remains unclear by what authority the Ministry of Justice has directed the Organized Crime Agency of BC to send bills for DNA analysis services to local governments. Has this decision been authorized through an Order in Council? If so, please indicate the regulation and its effective date.”
Here are the estimated costs for some other communities in the region:
|Fort St. John||$24,490.38|
“I understand money is tight everywhere” says NCLGA President Frenkel, ” but this is just a distortion of the system so that the provincial and federal governments can claim they’ve ‘balanced the budget’. “We firmly stand behind UBCM’s position calling on the Province to roll back the decision and open up the floor for discussion. There’s a solution in this that can work for all of us.”