The provincial government will spend an extra $230 million on B.C. RCMP services over the next three years as part of its public safety plan.
On Wednesday, B.C. Premier David Eby and Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the money would go in part toward filling staffing shortages at regional RCMP detachments in communities with fewer than 5,000 people.
This would allow provincially funded regional RCMP units to reach their authorized staffing levels of 2,602 officers.
The money will also be used hire additional officers in specialized units such as the major crimes section, the sexual exploitation of children unit, and the B.C. highway patrol — plus go toward helping prosecutors and probation officers better manage violent, high-risk offenders.
“The funding will ensure adequate and effective levels of policing and law enforcement across the province, particularly in rural, remote, and Indigenous communities, and in a wide variety of specialized teams that investigate and prevent complex violent and organized crimes,” Eby said.
Farnworth said the planning for this increase in investment had taken two years.
“Sustained core funding will provide a strong foundation for police resources, enabling the police to focus on violent crimes and other pressing public safety issues, while also actioning the implementation of the Safer Communities Action Plan and other public safety initiatives,” he said.
“Staffing up these units will improve public safety by increasing the overall capacity of homicide and missing persons investigations where foul play is suspected, and deterring the causes of motor vehicle fatalities, including speeding, distracted driving and impairment.”
The money will go directly toward paying the RCMP to train an additional 277 officers to fill vacancies.
Some of the additional funding will also go toward addressing anti-money-laundering recommendations from the Cullen Commission.
Eby said B.C. was able to afford this extra RCMP spending because the provincial economy was so strong.
Following the announcement, B.C. Liberal leader Kevin Falcon said his party had been asking the B.C. NDP to increase RCMP staffing levels for several years.
“The B.C. Liberals have called for funding 200 vacant RCMP positions and yet the NDP have dragged their feet on funding any,” Falcon said.
“Every single day those positions have remained unfunded is a day when British Columbians have faced serious public safety concerns.”