A National Survey of Youth Justice Committees in Canada
- 4.4 British Columbia
In British Columbia, there are two separate types of committees that operate community justice programs:
- Community Accountability Programs (CAPs) accept referrals of first- and second-time, low-risk young offenders from police at the pre-charge stage; and
- Youth and Family Court Committees (FCCs) do not, with a few exceptions, accept individual referrals, but instead provide advice to municipalities and other levels of government, based on court watching and other related activities focused on youth and families. FCCs are established under the Provincial Court Act, which states that each municipality must create a committee to serve without remuneration to assist the court, examine the community's resources for families and children, and report annually to the municipality and the Attorney General. In practice, only a minority of British Columbian municipalities have such a committee.
With two historic exceptions, none of the 81 CAPs or 10 active FCCs are designated by the Attorney General of the province. Accordingly, they did not qualify for inclusion in this study. However, the province is currently involved in a review of the issues related to possible designation of the various committees. These issues include concerns related to accountability, training, funding, liability protection for committee members, and coordination with other related activities in the youth and family area. A final decision regarding designation is expected within the next few months.
Currently, a new provincial funding program is in place for CAPs, consisting of a one-time $5000 start-up grant and annual grants of $2500 to support administrative and operational functions, as well as volunteer training and recognition. Many CAPs are also funded through charitable donations and municipal grants.
The two designated committees are FCCs in Greater Victoria (covering 13 different communities) and the North Shore (comprising the three municipalities of West Vancouver and the City and District of North Vancouver). With a membership of 30 and 20 persons respectively, their activities include court-watching, monitoring family violence issues, assessing youth needs and recommending programs for youth, monitoring the youth holding facility, assessing the relative proportions of Aboriginal and non-Aboriginal youth in conflict with the law, and providing sentencing advice to the courts. Funding to the Greater Victoria committee is provided, in the amount of $2000 annually, by the Capital Regional District, and to the North Shore committee, in the amount of $60,000, provided by equal $20,000 grants from each municipality.
Sustainability issues are reported in the form of committee member burnout (on one committee) and concern about funding, especially under the new YCJA. One of the committees is divided on the question of expanding its role to include individual referrals of youthful offenders, and the other has indicated that it is not interested in this role.
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