DNA Analysis Costs Shifting to Local Government

Local governments in British Columbia have begun to receive invoices for DNA analysis services. This new charge to local governments follows on an agreement between the Province of BC and Government of Canada with regard to Biological Casework (DNA) analysis. Information on this agreement was referenced in an update on the National RCMP Contract Management Committee that was distributed to local governments in June 2015.  

Background
The invoices for DNA services are being delivered by the Organized Crime Agency of British Columbia.  

DNA analysis services are not funded through the RCMP contract, but are provided instead through a separate agreement between the federal and provincial orders of government that expired in 2014. Since 1999, the federal government funded the cost of the DNA service, with a contribution from the provincial government, despite much of the laboratory work originating from local police agencies. As of 2004, provinces and territories contributed a fixed amount of $3.8 million annually for DNA analysis, with the federal government paying the remaining cost.  BC's share of the $3.8 million has worked out to about $1.3 million annually.

In 2013, the federal government advised the Province that either a new agreement based on actual costs would be reached, or DNA services would be reduced and eventually withdrawn completely. Dianne Watts, Co-Chair of the LGCMC and Mayor of Surrey at the time, subsequently wrote to Public Safety Minister Steven Blaney expressing local government concern about the federal position and the need for financial certainty in relation to policing costs. The possibility of reduced or withdrawn services was further emphasized by the fact that due to the specialized nature of DNA analysis, there is currently no alternative for having this work done which could immediately absorb the volume of service required by police agencies or whose results could be uploaded directly to the National DNA Databank.  In British Columbia, all police agencies, including municipal police departments, primarily use the services of the RCMP DNA lab, with some support of accredited private laboratories.

A new agreement was reached between the federal and provincial governments in early 2015 that ensures continuity of service.  It calls for 54% of the actual costs of DNA analysis to be charged to the provinces and territories.  The federal government has agreed to pay 46%. The amount paid by each province or territory will be based on their proportionate share of DNA analysis requests originating from their respective jurisdictions.  These changes are to be phased in over 3 years, in the following way:

  • In BC, the provincial government agreed to pay the full cost apportioned to the Province and municipalities for 2014/15 (April 1, 2014 – March 31, 2015). This ended up being $2.5 million (up from $1.3 million in 2013/14).
  • In 2015/16, the provincial government agreed to make a base contribution of $1.3 million, plus pay 75% of the remaining cost (representing the period April 1, 2015 to December 31, 2015). After paying $1.3 million, the remaining 2015/16 costs for BC were $2.3 million. The Province paid $1.7 million (75%), leaving $567,000 (25%) to be split among local governments. Last week, local governments began to receive invoices for their portion of the remaining $567,000.
  • In 2016/17, the phase in period will be complete, as the Province will continue to pay its $1.36 million base contribution, and the remaining cost will be split between local governments and the Province based on usage.  The cost of DNA service to be split by usage is estimated at $3.5M for 2016/17 and is set to rise further to actual costs after the phase in period. Starting in 2017/18, the charges will be based on the two-year average actual costs of the lab and the two-year average usage; the new charge will be set every two years. As per the table below, RCMP laboratory budgets are expected to increase with inflation over time to the extent that further efficiencies cannot be found. The federal cost share of 46% will remain in place.
  • An analysis of the 2016/17 DNA analysis services billing projections for local governments is available on the UBCM website.

 

Fiscal Year Cost to BC BC Base Contribution

BC One-Time Contribution

(for 3Q's, ending Dec. 31, 2015)

Remaining Balance to be Billed to Other Police Agencies
2014/15 $2,542,817.69 $2,542,817.69 N/A $0
2015/16 $3,632,596.71 $1,366,336.00 $1,699,695.53 $566,565.18
2016/17 $4,904,005.55 $1,366,336.00 N/A $3,537,669.55
2017/18 $5,602,608.00* $1,366,336.00 N/A $4,236,272.00
2018/19 $5,602,608.00 $1,366,336.00 N/A $4,236,272.00
2019/20 $5,770,686.24 $1,366,336.00 N/A $4,404,350.24

 

*Projection for future years (parameters / assumptions)
National Lab Cost $28,820,000
BC Share of Lab Usage 36%
Cost to BC Before Federal Contribution $10,375,200
Federal Contribution $4,772,592 (per MOU)
Cost to Prov. BC (Collected by OCABC) $5,602,608

 

Next Steps
UBCM will continue its advocacy through the Local Government Contract Management Committee (LGCMC), which will hold its next meeting in December 2015. UBCM will continue to advocate for a policing framework that provides efficient and cost-effective services to local governments, and will use the next LGCMC meeting to discuss this particular issue in greater detail with representatives from the Province and RCMP. As part of its involvement with the National Contract Management Committee, UBCM will continue to monitor this issue on behalf of its membership.

If you have any questions or concerns, please contact Bhar Sihota, UBCM Policy Analyst, at (604) 270-8226 x114.

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