Justice Minister Suzanne Anton has issued the following statement related to funding of DNA testing costs:
“I have been hearing from a number of municipalities regarding the cost of DNA services. Until recently, the federal government, through the RCMP, provided DNA services to police at no cost. British Columbia made a yearly contribution to those costs.
“This changed when the previous federal government decided to revise the funding model, declining to pay at the same level as they had before. But let’s be clear – British Columbia has not changed its funding – this is an increase that was imposed on B.C. and other provinces by the federal government which is now requiring municipalities and the Province to pay more for DNA services, or lose the service altogether.
“Unfortunately, this means the costs fall to both levels of government and we recognize the burden this federal decision places on municipalities. That is why B.C. is making a significant financial contribution to help them move to the new funding model.
“Not only will we continue to subsidize municipal DNA testing by maintaining our annual contribution of $1.3 million, in order to assist municipalities, we have paid an additional $1.2 million in 2014-15 and will pay an additional $1.7 million this year for DNA services used by police in B.C.”
“During negotiations around this change, we engaged municipalities, briefed the president of the Union of British Columbia Municipalities (UBCM) and UBCM’s Local Government Contract Management Committee. My staff also briefed police chiefs and police boards.
“In fact, on Feb. 21, 2014, UBCM director Rhona Martin and then-president and co-chair of UBCM Dianne Watts wrote to the federal government strongly urging them to reach an agreement with the Province on a number of issues, including DNA analysis. They made the point that it was not appropriate for Public Safety Canada to make assertions about service reductions when service delivery is the responsibility of the RCMP.
“While UBCM and municipalities have been aware of these changes for over a year, I do understand why they have concerns with the decision by the federal government. I would encourage them to raise these directly with the Government of Canada.”