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

Open burning permitted again in Kamloops Fire Centre

Low fire rating prompts decision throughout Kamloops Fire Centre

B.C. Rural Party co-founder rebukes pro-NDP accusation

Telkwa Mayor Darcy Repen disputes being NDP campaign supporter

Incumbent trustee candidate reassesses SOGI 123 impact

Lee-Ann Tiede says mandated student inclusiveness program has some issues

Lake Country Chamber of Commerce to host All Candidates Forum

Residents are being asked to submit questions to be asked

Kelowna-Lake Country Liberal MP acclaimed for his party’s nomination

Stephen Fuhr runs unopposed as the party’s standard-bearer for the next federal election

VIDEO: Messages of hope, encouragement line bars of B.C. bridge

WARNING: This story contains references to suicide and may not be appropriate for all audiences.

Fresh-faced Flames fend off Canucks 4-1

Vancouver drops second straight NHL exhibition contest

VIDEO: B.C. deer struggles with life-preserver caught in antlers

Campbell River resident captures entangled deer on camera

Scheer pushes Trudeau to re-start Energy East pipeline talks

Conservative Leader Andrew Scheer questioned the Prime Minister over Trans Mountain project

Mistaken identity: Missing dog claimed in Moose Jaw belongs to another family

Brennen Duncan was reunited with a white Kuvasz that was found in Saskatchewan

Abandoned kitten safe and sound thanks to B.C. homeless man

‘Jay’ found little black-and-white kitten in a carrier next to a dumpster by a Chilliwack pet store

Police chief defends controversial marijuana seizure

Advocates said cannabis was part of an opioid-substitution program in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside

Trans Mountain completes Burrard Inlet spill exercise

Training required, some work continues on pipeline expansion

Supporters of B.C. man accused of murdering Belgian tourist pack courtoom

Family and friends of Sean McKenzie, 27, filled the gallery for brief court appearance in Chilliwack

Most Read