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Instead of new RCMP facility, fund other priorities

addiction specialist, social worker, and psychiatric nurse

Instead of new RCMP facility, fund other priorities

I have a dream…a bigger budget for law enforcement is not it!

As the RCMP in North Cowichan, B.C. is looking to borrow $48 million for a new facility; maybe it’s time to reassess our priorities across B.C., and reallocate funds. To build a new RCMP facility will cost taxpayers a four per cent tax increase — an estimated $71 per year for the next four years.

As a result of worldwide protests, there is a heightened awareness of systemic racism and police brutality, and a growing movement to “defund” police departments, and redirect funds to mental health and social services. One way to do this is to reallocate funds and improve the emergency response system. When a person calls 9-1-1, we know that the emergency response will be from police, ambulance, fire.

What if there was a new option that includes specialized outreach workers and compassionate first responders, such as an addiction specialist, social worker, and psychiatric nurse — with salaries that truly reflect their professional status and experience? They may provide a more effective, suitable and safer new option by mental health and social services, without police uniforms. In some circumstances, these services may better address the needs of our most vulnerable citizens.

For example, so many families and individuals have been devastated by the opioid crisis in Cowichan Valley, which has taken 170 lives in B.C. during the month of May alone, more than the total number of lives lost from B.C.’s coronavirus pandemic. Reallocating taxpayer funds does not seem unreasonable when considering the additional support and resources that may be required to assist residents deeply impacted by difficult times and the pandemic.

Denise Leighton

Cowichan Valley

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