Coroners hindered by budget cuts: Audit

Government urged to 'step back' to ensure independence

Budget cuts are hampering the B.C. Coroners Service’s ability to more broadly investigate deaths and find ways to prevent them, B.C. Auditor-General John Doyle has concluded.

His audit found the service is meeting its basic duties but could do much more within the scope of the Coroners Act.

“A declining budget, coupled with escalating investigation expenses, are negatively impacting the quality of service,” Doyle found. “This has the potential for more significant long-term repercussions.”

The service’s budget was cut from $15 million to $13 million this year.

Doyle also called on the province to clarify the coroners service’s role and then “step back to preserve the organization’s independence.”

Individual coroners maintain their independence to ensure unbiased findings, he found, but warned current administrative reporting requirements have “created real and perceived risks to the operational independence of the B.C. Coroners Service.”

The service has been through three chief coroners since 2009 and been headed by an acting chief for long stints.

“In the absence of steady leadership, management decisions in recent years have often been short-term reactions to issues of the day,” the audit said.

Autopsy and body transport fees have risen, but the budget has gone down, so the service has been forced to cut back on areas like training.

The audit provides eight recommendations for bolstering the coroners service and its role.

It also raised concern that the service’s Child Death Review Unit is short-handed, slowing its progress in reviewing a significant backlog of child death cases.

NDP public safety critic Kathy Corrigan said the government shouldn’t short-change a service that can help prevent deaths.

Just Posted

Sailings filling up on Northern Sea Wolf

There is a strong demand for the service

New ownership group presents Mount Timothy Resort plans

‘More activity and more people on the hill means more fun’

Thunderstorms in forecast for much of Cariboo Chilcotin

Special weather statements, concerns of flash flooding, for southern B.C. regions

Two Nuxalk artists awarded YVR Art Foundation scholarships

Several Nuxalk artists have won the award, some more than once

Concerns over democracy as Senate committee votes to nix oil tanker ban

Critics of the Senate’s recommendation to kill Bill C-48 say it goes against popular will

REPLAY: The best videos from across B.C. this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week in the province

Mistrial declared in Jamie Bacon murder plot trial

Bacon was on trial for counselling to commit the murder of Person X

B.C. VIEWS: Money-laundering melodrama made for TV

Public inquiry staged to point fingers before 2021 election

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen found in torched SUV

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

Most Read