Surrey Liberal MLA Marvin Hunt charges that the NDP government’s Employer Health Tax is resulting in deep funding cuts to policing services while this city and others experience “escalating” gang crime and shootings.
“These cuts run contrary to the responsibility of government to ensure public safety,” the Surrey-Cloverdale MLA said. “It is clearly laid out in the Police Act that the minister must uphold adequate and effective policing levels throughout British Columbia. How are these cuts acceptable?”
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said the provincial government is working with the RCMP “to address the pressure and to find solutions that do not affect public safety.”
Farnworth was speaking to news of a projected $10 million cut from the RCMP’s provincial budget.
“Just to be clear, the projected deficit has been communicated to government by the RCMP,” Farnworth told the Now-Leader, in an emailed statement Thursday. “Budgetary constraints and inflationary impacts have been managed by the RCMP for a number of years through various financial management controls.”
Hunt said that in June the Victoria Police Department axed its crime reduction unit to afford the NDP’s Employer Health Tax. According to a BC Liberal press release, the RCMP cuts will “limit funding” for the Integrated Homicide Investigation Team and the anti-gang Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit.
But Farnworth doesn’t accept that. “The impacts are now becoming increasingly difficult for RCMP to manage and we are working with them to address the pressure and to find solutions that do not affect public safety. This has not impacted significant and continued provincial and federal investments into gangs and organized crime initiatives over several years to bolster the response to guns and gangs and enhance the safety of our communities.”
Hunt said the EHT tax is “hammering” schools, hospitals and law enforcement organizations.
“As crime rates rise and communities become less safe,” he said, “it seems that all the NDP can do is shrug their shoulders and rake in more taxes.”
Farnworth noted there is “no quick fix” to gun and gang violence.
“It has deep roots requiring a multi-pronged strategy over the long term. Government will build upon successes and work to address current challenges in disrupting gang and gun violence in our communities,” the minister said. “The comprehensive strategy involves focused and sustained initiatives over several years to bolster the response to guns and gangs and enhance the safety of our communities.”