The Province of B.C. has announced new measures aimed at increasing enforcement provisions related to repeat offenders and improving services to address mental health and addictions issues in communities. The Safer Communities Action Plan comes one month after an independent review into repeat offending recommended that the Province make significant new investments for those with mental health and other complex issues.
As part of implementing the Safer Communities Action Plan, the Province will endeavour to improve coordination between key stakeholders including law enforcement, community organizations, health providers, and the justice system. The Action Plan includes the following measures and initiatives:
- New repeat violent offender coordinated response teams that include police, prosecutors and probation officers;
- Expanding the use of mental-health crisis response teams, to alleviate the burden on local police and improve response to those in crisis;
- A new addictions care initiative at St. Paul’s Hospital that helps individuals more easily transition between various forms of care and response;
- Opening ten Indigenous Justice Centres to provide culturally appropriate support to Indigenous Peoples involved in the justice system;
- Introducing new legislation in spring 2023 that intends to help improve proceeds of crime seizures;
- A new policy, effective November 22, 2022, that will entail direction from the Attorney General to prosecutors to work within federal law and develop “a clear and understandable approach to bail;” and,
- New supports for people with acquired brain injuries.
This announcement comes as welcome news to B.C. local governments. UBCM’s members have long supported new crime prevention solutions, including increased enforcement and related initiatives to address repeat offenders. Members have also called for additional support to address mental health, addiction and other complex social issues. A 2020 Special Resolution seeking long-term provincial strategies to provide integrated health and psychiatric care, affordable housing, and additional resources for mental health and addictions services was endorsed by UBCM’s members. Through this resolution and subsequent advocacy, UBCM has emphasized the need for improved coordination between police and mental health sectors to manage individuals with mental health issues.