Over the weekend, BC’s new premier revealed plans to address violent repeat offenders and expand mental-health crisis response teams.
Just a few days in his new role, Premier David Eby announced a wide range of new public safety measures.
“Being compassionate, concerned and taking action on mental-health and addiction issues does not mean that we have to accept repeated criminal behaviour or violence,” said Eby, who was sworn in as premier two days earlier.
“Everyone deserves to feel safe in their community.”
Residents across BC have voiced their frustration over the property and violent crime for months. On Sunday, the province released a statement that said it is launching a new Safer Communities Action Plan.
One part of the plan includes creating a repeat violent offender coordinated response team consisting of police, prosecutors, and probation officers.
In addition, the province said it would also be expanding the mental-health crisis response teams into more communities so police can focus on crime, and people in crisis are met early on by healthcare workers and community members.
“We know when a person is experiencing a mental-health or substance use crisis, what they need and want, is the support from someone who knows what they are going through,” said Jonathan Morris, CEO, Canadian Mental Health Association, B.C. Division, Victoria branch.
“That is the heart of the Peer Assisted Care Team (PACT) model. We are very excited to lead this transformation of crisis care with partners in British Columbia. Today marks a bold commitment by this government to support mental health for all. A community-led care response, informed by people with lived and living experience, operated by local organizations is part of the transformation we need.”
New measures announced include:
- launching new repeat violent offender co-ordinated response teams, made up of police, and dedicated prosecutors and probation officers
- expanding mental-health crisis response teams into more communities so police can focus on crime, and people in crisis are met early on by health-care workers and community members
- taking the next steps in creating a new model of addictions care at St. Paul’s Hospital so people can seamlessly move from crisis response in the emergency room, to detox, to treatment services, in partnership with Vancouver Coastal Health and Providence Health Care, with plans to expand this model in the future
- opening 10 new Indigenous Justice Centres to provide culturally appropriate support for Indigenous Peoples involved in the justice system to address the root causes of their involvement in the system and help them break the cycle
- going after the houses, cars and luxury goods of high-level organized criminals who profit on misery by introducing “unexplained wealth order” legislation in spring 2023
- building public confidence in the prosecution system with new direction from the attorney general to prosecutors to implement a clear and understandable approach to bail for repeat violent offenders within the existing federal law. The new policy will take effect on November 22nd
“We are making changes to bring key groups together to keep people and communities safe — ensuring those who commit violent acts face consequences and creating as many opportunities as possible for them to address mental health and addiction issues to break the cycle of a life in and out of jail,” Eby added.
No new spending was announced for the repeat offender response teams.