A Richmond non-profit that helps keep people out of the court system has received an almost $6,000 increase to its annual funding.
Under the new funding — which was approved as part of the 2020 budget at Monday’s council meeting — Touchstone Family Association will receive an annual increase of $5,700 to their current contract of $95,000 for the restorative justice program.
According to Touchstone, obtaining funding for the program is “an ongoing challenge.”
The organization describes restorative justice as a process through which the offender and victim are invited to come together “so the offender can be held accountable and the victim can receive reparation.”
Volunteer facilitators also work with offenders to help them take responsibility for their crimes.
Touchstone requested the six-per-cent annual funding increase due to inflation costs and wage increases, which have placed a strain on the restorative justice program. The increase will be included with the organization’s contract renewal with the city — the current contract expires Dec. 31.
The new contract will cover a three-year-period, from the start of 2020 through the end of 2022. Once it comes into effect, Touchstone's new annual funding will be $100,700.
The majority of Touchstone’s funding comes from the city, which began funding a full-time restorative justice coordinator in 2008. The program also receives $2,500 from the provincial government.
A report from the city notes that Richmond has “long advocated for increased funding for restorative justice services, but the province maintains it will not advance additional funding,” which has led to the city funding the program.
Council also endorsed writing to local members of Parliament and the Legislative Assembly, as well as B.C.’s premier, solicitor general and other provincial and federal government representatives to advocate for more funding for the program.
Touchstone, which has been operating in the city since 1983, first partnered with Richmond RCMP to offer restorative justice in 2004. The city has been working with the organization since 2008.