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B.C. police watchdog calls for more funding to combat staffing shortage

Chief civilian director Ronald MacDonald says over the past two years, its caseload has ‘basically doubled’
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British Columbia’s provincial flag flies on a flag pole in Ottawa, Friday July 3, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

The Independent Investigations Office of British Columbia is calling for more government funding to entice candidates to apply for open positions as caseloads peak.

In the first three days of April, the police watchdog says it responded to six incidents, including two officer shootings, which highlights the significant staffing challenges.

Chief civilian director Ronald MacDonald says over the past two years, its caseload has “basically doubled” and there are about 70 active files.

He says the office has 24 front-line investigators, and even though the government agreed 30 workers were needed in 2018, it has never been fully staffed.

MacDonald says he is trying to fill the positions, but the current salary structure undercuts his ability to fill roles.

The civilian-led police oversight agency operates under the Ministry of the Attorney General, which did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

MacDonald says he has not been able to attract quality candidates because the office can’t offer competitive wages or pay overtime, and it requires employees to be on-call every three weeks.

“We are bound by the provisions of the Public Service Act on salary scale, salary structure and that both limits our base salaries and means we’re unable to pay overtime,” MacDonald said in an interview.

Even if the office could pay more, MacDonald says he doesn’t have the budget to do it.

“It’s unfair to the people who work here and it’s unfair to the people of B.C. because it means that our investigations take longer than they might otherwise.”

The Canadian Press

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