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Posts from the ‘Crime prevention’ Category

“Welfare day” in British Columbia

Today I’m releasing the results of an FOI request I submitted several years ago, before last provincial election in British Columbia. It provides insight into what the previous government knew about the harms of “cheque day,” also known as “welfare day,” or “welfare Wednesday.” This is the one day of the month in British Columbia when the vast majority of funds are distributed to individuals who qualify for income assistance and/or disability assistance.

This was my request:

All records related to Income Assistance and Disability Assistance cheque issue dates including but not limited to: government communications and policy decisions regarding cheque issue dates; internal discussions about the 2014 study from the BC Centre for Excellence in HIV/AIDS that links “cheque day” with increased illicit drug overdoses:

http://www.ctvnews.ca/health/cheque-day-linked-to-drug-overdose-risk-in-b-c-study-1.2021631

and any policy changes suggested around the new date schedule, any government communication with external groups about the study, and any previous or subsequent internal government research about this; any government communications, emails, memos, notes, etc, regarding the new research underway known as TASA Cheque Day:

http://www.cfenet.ubc.ca/research/urban-health-research-initiative/tasa-cheque-day-study/about

; all records associated with the change to public notification of cheque issue dates for the current year when prior to 2015, government made the past 5+ years of cheque issue dates available on its website. (Date Range for Record Search: From 01/01/2013 To 01/24/2016)

Here are the results of the above FOI request.

It is worth noting that ever since 2016, the British Columbia government only gives public notification of the Income Assistance and Disability cheque issue dates for the current year (presently, 2018).

However, prior to late 2015, the BC government always made at least five years of cheque issue dates available on its web site, as shown by the Wayback Machine internet archive. (If you follow the above link you may have to scroll down to see the actual cheque schedules.) I’ve included the last available five year schedule of the cheque dates below for anyone who is conducting research in this area:

Income Assistance and Disability Assistance Cheque Issue Dates

2015 Schedule
For the month of     ->     Cheque issue date
January 2015     ->     December 17, 2014
February 2015     ->     January 21, 2015
March 2015     ->      February 18, 2015
April 2015      ->      March 25, 2015
May 2015      ->      April 22, 2015
June 2015      ->      May 27, 2015
July 2015      ->      June 24, 2015
August 2015      ->      July 29, 2015
September 2015      ->      August 26, 2015
October 2015      ->      September 23, 2015
November 2015      ->      October 21, 2015
December 2015      ->      November 18, 2015
January 2016      ->      December 16, 2015

2014 Schedule
For the month of      ->      Cheque issue date
January 2014      ->      December 18, 2013
February 2014      ->      January 22, 2014
March 2014      ->      February 26, 2014
April 2014      ->      March 26, 2014
May 2014      ->      April 23, 2014
June 2014      ->      May 28, 2014
July 2014      ->      June 25, 2014
August 2014      ->      July 23, 2014
September 2014      ->      August 27, 2014
October 2014      ->      September 24, 2014
November 2014      ->      October 22, 2014
December 2014      ->      November 19, 2014
January 2015      ->      December 17, 2014

2013 Schedule
For the month of      ->      Cheque issue date
January 2013      ->      December 19, 2012
February 2013      ->      January 23, 2013
March 2013      ->      February 20, 2013
April 2013      ->      March 20, 2013
May 2013      ->      April 24, 2013
June 2013      ->      May 22, 2013
July 2013      ->      June 26, 2013
August 2013      ->      July 24, 2013
September 2013      ->      August 28, 2013
October 2013      ->      September 25, 2013
November 2013      ->      October 23, 2013
December 2013      ->      November 20, 2013
January 2014      ->      December 18, 2013

2012 Schedule
For the month of      ->      Cheque issue date
January 2012      ->      December 21, 2011
February 2012      ->      January 25, 2012
March 2012      ->      February 22, 2012
April 2012      ->      March 21, 2012
May 2012      ->      April 25, 2012
June 2012      ->      May 23, 2012
July 2012      ->      June 27, 2012
August 2012      ->      July 25, 2012
September 2012      ->      August 29, 2012
October 2012      ->      September 26, 2012
November 2012      ->      October 24, 2012
December 2012      ->      November 21, 2012
January 2013      ->      December 19, 2012

2011 Schedule
For the month of      ->      Cheque issue date
January 2011      ->      December 15, 2010
February 2011      ->      January 19, 2011
March 2011      ->      February 16, 2011
April 2011      ->      March 23, 2011
May 2011      ->      April 20, 2011
June 2011      ->      May 18, 2011
July 2011      ->      June 22, 2011
August 2011      ->      July 27, 2011
September 2011      ->      August 24, 2011
October 2011     ->      September 21, 2011
November 2011      ->      October 26, 2011
December 2011      ->      November 23, 2011
January 2012      ->      December 21, 2011

2010 Schedule
For the month of Cheque issue date
January 2010      ->      December 16, 2009
February 2010      ->      January 20, 2010
March 2010      ->      February 17, 2010
April 2010      ->      March 24, 2010
May 2010      ->      April 21, 2010
June 2010      ->      May 19, 2010
July 2010      ->      June 23, 2010
August 2010      ->      July 21, 2010
September 2010      ->      August 25, 2010
October 2010      ->      September 22, 2010
November 2010      ->      October 27, 2010
December 2010      ->      November 24, 2010
January 2011      ->      December 15, 2010

Having five years of welfare cheque dates makes it a lot easier for researchers who are interested in tracking overdose deaths, police calls for service, medical emergencies, hospital admissions and so on.  However, despite my request for “all records associated with the change to public notification of cheque issue dates for the current year when prior to 2015, government made the past 5+ years of cheque issue dates available on its website,” no positive results came back when I got the Freedom of Information results. And so it appears there are no records whatsoever that document the decision of the previous provincial government to reduce the list of publicly available cheque dates from five years to only one year. This, in turn, limited the ability of researchers to analyze the potential harms of “cheque day.”

Using 810.1 and 810.2 peace bonds to reduce violence in Canada

The document Handbook for High-Risk Offenders – A Handbook for Criminal Justice Professionals was published in 2001 by Public Safety Canada. Although dated, it provides a basic description of 810.1 and 810.2 peace bonds:

On August 1, 1997, Bill C-55 came into effect and created the section 810.2 order. The 810.2 order focuses on violent offenders, including sexual offenders. Both of these sections are designed to be preventative and not punitive, hence, it is not necessary for an offender to have a previous criminal record in order to qualify for one of these orders.

These orders can be made for a maximum of one year [this has since been extended, in some circumstances, to two years]. Conditions can be attached to these orders and a breach of an 810 order constitutes an offence. These orders are quite broad in their application, as a crime need not have been committed and the potential victim need not be named. Should a defendant refuse to enter into an 810 order they can be imprisoned for up to one year.

Two of these orders, 810.01, (When fear of a criminal organization offence); and 810.2, (Where fear of a serious personal injury offence) require the consent of the Attorney General of the province, or if in the territories the consent of the Attorney General Canada, to proceed. Each of the 810 orders has standard conditions set out in the Code. In each case the court will consider whether to impose these conditions based on the interests of society and the interests of the safety of the potential victims. The court also has the discretion to impose any additional conditions it sees fit as long as these conditions meet the test of reasonableness. Additional conditions are commonly applied to 810.1 orders (Where Fear of a Sexual Offence) and to 810.2 orders (Where Fear of a Serious Personal Injury Offence).

The British Columbia Supreme Court ruled in R. v. Baker (1999) [B.C.J No. 681 (B.C.S.C.)] that it is not necessary for the informant (the person who has the fear) to have had contact with the defendant in order to lay an information under section 810.2.

Generally, while the conditions associated with 810 orders do impose some restrictions on the defendant, they should not prevent the defendant from leading a reasonably normal life. See R. v. Budreo (1996), 104 C.C.C. (3d) 245, 45 C.R. (4th) 133 (Ont. Ct. (Gen. Div.)), affd (unreported, January 19, 2000, Ont. C.A., Court File No. C23785).

In my view, these peace bonds are an important tool. Used properly, they can reduce violence and keep potential offenders out of jail.

Here are some of the more important cases I’ve been able to find about 810.1 and 810.2 orders:

R v. Boone, 2007 MBPC 15
This case is useful for its examination of various conditions that can be applied under 810.1 and 810.2 orders.

R. v. J. S. H., 2017 BCPC 12
The Court declined to order an 810.2 for the defendant. Most of the Defendant’s criminal record was as a youth, and his last criminal conviction was five years ago. He spent 14 months on a recognizance of bail pending the 810.2 hearing, and his conduct during that time was upstanding. Of note, at para 21, there is a list of examples in case law where orders have been made under section 810.2 even though the Defendants had similar periods of compliance with their bail orders.

R. v. Nikal, 2016 BCSC 29
This was a provincial court decision appealed to the BC Supreme Court. The BC Supreme Court found that the original judge did not have to articulate imminent harm (para 42). All that was necessary was for the evidence to show that apprehension of the risk is reasonably grounded and is neither speculative nor remote (para 40).

R. v. Fendley, 2013 BCPC 194
The Court granted an 810.1 order even though the Defendant had no criminal record for sexual offences (para 5). The Court also found there was no requirement for the Informant to prove “serious and imminent danger” (paras 20 – 28). The reason this language is important is that a much earlier court decision from another province suggested that “serious and imminent danger” was required (even though this language was not present in the Criminal Code).

R. v. Baker, 1999 CanLII 15135 (BC SC)
The hearing judge need only find on the balance of probabilities that there are reasonable grounds that the appellant will commit a personal injury offence (para 44).

R. v. R.H.G.M., 2010 BCPC 434
This case resulted in a peace bond with comprehensive conditions, including a curfew, a red zone and a no alcohol condition (paras 31 – 34). The Defendant had a criminal record dating back to 1988. He had amassed approximately 30 convictions, including a three year federal sentence for aggravated assault.

R. v. Penunsi, 2015 CanLII 64020 (NL SCTD)
Section 515 of the Criminal Code (judicial interim release) applies to proceedings on an Information laid pursuant to s. 810.2 of the Criminal Code.

R. v. Burton, 2013 ONSC 4531
This case resulted in a substantial sentence for breaching an 810.2 order. In addition to a lengthy jail sentence, the offender also received a probation order with a comprehensive and innovative list of conditions.

Areas of British Columbia with large reductions in violent crime

According to the BC government’s own compilation of crime data, some areas of the province have experienced massive reductions in violent crime.

Look at what happened to violent offences in Prince George during the past ten years. The population decreased by 2% – 1,552 people – during this period. But there was a 43% decrease in violent offences:

  • 2006          2,734
  • 2007          2,516
  • 2008          1,902
  • 2009          2,063
  • 2010          2,275
  • 2011          2,205
  • 2012          2,192
  • 2013          1,819
  • 2014          1,584
  • 2015          1,538

What is going on here? What is this RCMP detachment doing? What is the municipality doing?  What is the community doing? It would be interesting to figure out is happening.

Here is Kelowna. Their population increased by 13%, 14,344 people, over the last decade. But they experienced a 55% decrease in violent crime:

  • 2006         2,479
  • 2007         2,313
  • 2008         2,068
  • 2009         2,126
  • 2010         2,090
  • 2011         1,942
  • 2012         1,806
  • 2013         1,835
  • 2014         1,415
  • 2015         1,097

Here is Nanaimo. Their population grew by 12%, or 9,755 people. But they experienced a 49% decrease in violent crime:

  • 2006         2,225
  • 2007         1,737
  • 2008         1,632
  • 2009         1,636
  • 2010         1,693
  • 2011         1,403
  • 2012         1,429
  • 2013         1,422
  • 2014         1,127
  • 2015         1,134

New Westminster has a municipal police department (as compared to an RCMP detachment). Their population increased by 18%, that’s 11,169 new residents. They experienced a 39% decrease in violent crime:

  • 2006         1,437
  • 2007         1,314
  • 2008         1,204
  • 2009         1,058
  • 2010         1,122
  • 2011         939
  • 2012         1,014
  • 2013         953
  • 2014         874
  • 2015         876

Vancouver, another municipal police department, experienced an 8% increase in population (49,569 more people). But violent offences in the city dropped by 27%:

  • 2006         11,015
  • 2007         10,769
  • 2008         10,858
  • 2009         10,838
  • 2010         10,442
  • 2011         10,055
  • 2012         9,218
  • 2013         8,832
  • 2014         8,221
  • 2015         8,007

Burnaby, Campbell River, Comox, Delta, Duncan, Kamloops are some of the other cities and towns that saw large drops in violent crime.

According to the definitions and data qualifiers section of the document: “Violent crimes include the offences of homicide, attempted murder, sexual and non-sexual assault, sexual offences against children, abduction, forcible confinement or kidnapping, firearms, robbery, criminal harassment, extortion, uttering threats, and threatening or harassing phone calls and other violent offences.”

Don’t buy property in the City of Victoria

Mayor Lisa Helps and Councillor Chris Coleman are putting the following motion before the Committee of the Whole on April 6th. It’s Item #16 on the agenda:

Recommendation: That Council amend the Streets and Traffic Bylaw to add Section 84(3) as follows: Section 84(3) An exemption to the provisions of this section shall occur when the CMHC vacancy rate for Victoria is at• 3% or lower. When the exemption is in place, people sleeping in their vehicles must not park their vehicles on any street for the purposes of sleeping before 7pm and must not remain parked on any street for the purposes of sleeping after 7am.

Want to know what this will look like?  Take all the derelict boats from the Gorge waterway, multiply by 100 and put them in Fairfield, Rockland, James Bay, North Park, Oaklands, Vic West and downtown. In a city still healing from the crime and violence of tent city, it is incredible that a proposal would be put forward to enable camping on Burdett Avenue and other city streets. These campers will be even closer to houses and apartment buildings than tent city.

What are the dangers? Disposal of human feces, for starters. Noise complaints. Fire hazards (open flame) from candles and portable stoves. Vehicle engines left running all night. Use of loud generators in residential neighbourhoods. Carbon monoxide poisoning. Consumption of alcohol and drugs inside cars. Care and control of a vehicle while impaired. Drug trafficking in and around vehicles. Fatal drug overdoses.  Hoarders and other people with serious mental health problems living inside cars. Car cities – the new “tent city” – popping up throughout Victoria. CarBnB. Extra wake-ups for bylaw and police. A national incentive for every predatory criminal with a vehicle to travel here.  Those are a few concerns off the top of my head. But none of these issues are mentioned in the report from Mayor Helps and Councillor Coleman.

The proposal is based on a Facebook poll with eight responses.  Look at the response from “male 05”:

Oh yeah- my buddy [name removed] was sleeping in his truck-camper (the carry-along kind in the box of the truck), in the parking lot of [name removed] after hosting the Thursday night jam they have there. He was woken up by the cops at 1am as well and told that he had to move along- difficult to do when you’ve been hosting a jam for free beer essentially. He had to go into the hotel lobby with the cops to confirm that he had been working there, and that they knew he was sleeping in the parking lot and were ok with it. He was informed by the cops that if they found him there again he would be ticketed and possibly towed for ‘drinking and driving’ Again, in spite of the fact that the hotel was ok with him being there

Taking this third-hand account at face value, a drunk musician parked overnight on private property.  Police used discretion, issued a warning, and did not investigate him for care and control of a vehicle while impaired by alcohol. Is this truly a good reason to allow anyone to live in cars on public streets?

This proposal reinforces the uncertainty that has been felt by residents and businesses for a long time. No one in Victoria knows what will happen to the streets, parks and schools in their neighbourhoods. It is completely unpredictable.  Not just on a five year timeline, or a one year timeline, but even on a month-to-month basis.

And this is why I always say to anyone who asks: “Don’t buy property in the City of Victoria.”

New issue of 10-8 police newsletter

A new issue of the 10-8 newsletter has just been released. Mike Novakowski does a great job with these newsletters. They will be of interest to any Canadian police officer or to anyone with an interest in criminal justice issues. This issue includes articles on the following topics:

  • Detention Justified: Clear Nexus Between Detainee & Crime
  • Trunk Search Lawful: Odour + Other Factors = Reasonable Grounds
  • Officers Civilly Protected By Reasonable Mistake Of Fact
  • Consent Relevant To Lawfulness Of Warrantless Dwelling Arrest
  • Youth Not Detained: s. 146 YCJA Did Not Apply
  • Stay Unwarranted: No Nexus Between Post- Investigation Charter Breach & Offences
  • Hit & Run: Intent Must Be To Avoid Civil Or Criminal Liability
  • Factors Viewed Collectively & Contextually Provide Necessary Grounds
  • Intention To Stop Arose On Public Highway: Private Property Pullover Lawful
  • Seatbelt Offence One Of Strict Liability
  • Reasonable Grounds To Be Assessed At Time Of Arrest