Kamloops sheriffs being flown into Victoria to deal with shortage
Kamloops deputy sheriffs are being flown into Victoria to deal with the provincial capital's sheriff shortages.
According to the B.C. Government and Service Employees’ Union, Kamloops Sheriff Services is covering the costs for flights, overtime, meals and accommodation for deputy sheriffs being flown into Victoria. The BCGEU said that Vancouver deputy sheriffs are also being asked to work in Victoria.
BCGEU vice-president Dean Purdy said that covering Victoria’s staffing shortages has “significant costs attached.”
“I would ballpark $1,200 per employee per week,” said Purdy. The arrangement between Kamloops and Victoria is expected to last for six months. At Purdy’s estimated costs, one sheriff would cost about $30,000 over those six months.
The union claims that the sheriff’s services lost 20 deputy sheriffs between 2012 and 2016 due to employees leaving for other jobs.
Justice minister Suzanne Anton said that the province is addressing understaffing.
"I have an additional $2.67 million so that we can have two classes of sheriffs go through the Justice Institute this year,” Anton told the legislature on Feb. 23. Two classes of 24 will graduate in May and October respectively.
But Purdy said that’s not enough to address the real problem; sheriffs leaving for better jobs.
“The [province] needs to address the wage gap between sheriffs and other law enforcement agencies,” he said. "Once sheriffs are trained up, they move over to other, higher paying law enforcement jobs.”
The BCGEU said that the shortage has lead to a multitude of courtroom delays and closures in February including seven closures and two delays in Victoria and one Supreme Court delay in Port Alberni.