UBCM Calls on Province to Reverse Cost Shift to Local Governments

Update
Minister of Justice and Attorney General responds to UBCM request for the Province to cease billing local governments for DNA testing - Dec 2, 2015

UBCM responds to statement from Minister of Justice and Attorney General - Dec 3, 2015

Original Article
The Union of BC Municipalities is calling on Attorney General Suzanne Anton to reverse a decision to shift provincial costs for DNA analysis to local governments. Recently, local governments began to receive bills for DNA analysis services that previously had been funded by the federal and provincial governments.

The decision by the Province to shift these costs to local governments was made without consultation or explanation to the impacted municipalities. In 2016/17 alone, $2.90 million in unexpected costs will be shifted onto municipalities with populations greater than 5,000.

“Imagine waking up one morning and finding a bill in your mailbox that properly belonged to your neighbour – that’s how our members are feeling about this decision”, said UBCM President Al Richmond. “We can all appreciate the Province is doing its best to balance the budget, but the solution for paying for new costs can’t be handing the bill over to local governments.”

In a letter to Minister Anton, Mr. Richmond described the decision to transfer costs without consultation as a “significant oversight” since the decision failed to take into account the ability of local governments to pay. Richmond also states that to his knowledge no other province or territory is adopting BC’s approach, and asked the Minister to explain the Province’s justification and authority for its decision.

Based on opinion that UBCM has sought on the authority of the Province under the Police Act, it appears that an Order in Council is required in order to shift costs for DNA analysis to local governments. The Ministry of Justice has not yet indicated that such an Order in Council exists.

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