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

Two appointed to Summerland’s Board of Variance

Appointments are for three-year terms

Controversial anti-abortion film to be screened in Penticton

Unplanned will be shown at the Penticton Landmark theatre

Monster Truck action returns to the Okanagan for a second night

From 6 until 7 p.m. you can meet the drivers and get a close up look at the trucks

Update: Coroner investigating after body recovered from Okanagan Lake

Penticton fire department assisted the RCMP with the recovery of a body Saturday

3 dead, 2 missing in northern B.C: Here’s what we know so far

Lucas Fowler, 23, and his girlfriend, Chynna Deese, were shot and killed on July 14 or 15

Tubing world record broken on Vancouver Island

But record for length of tubes linked together still has to be confirmed

UPDATE: Culprit leaves clue for Okanagan RCMP in rainbow crosswalk vandalism

Crosswalk was defaced on the weekend, but RCMP may have some evidence

The Beaverton’s sharp satire thrives in polarized political climate

Canadian TV series’ third season to air Tuesday on CTV after “The Amazing Race Canada”

Kelowna house fire deemed not suspicious

Fire crews doused overnight blaze at Barnaby Road home

VIDEO: Young couple found dead in northern B.C. had been shot, police say

Chynna Noelle Deese of the U.S. and Lucas Robertson Fowler of Australia were found along Highway 97

Pot shop to open doors Saturday in Lake Country

Starbuds will be one of B.C.’s largest private cannabis stores

VIDEO: Man found dead near B.C. teens’ truck could be linked to a double homicide

RCMP said they are looking for Kam McLeod, 19, and Bryer Schmegelsky, 18, of Port Alberni

Family of missing B.C. senior with dementia frustrated with situation, heartened by community support

Nine days since Grace was last seen the question remains: ‘How can an 86-year-old just disappear?’

Most Read