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Union hopeful new government means better pay for B.C. Sheriffs

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December 01, 2017 - 10:01 AM

The union representing deputy sheriffs in B.C. says the answer to a severe shortage of employees in the field could be solved with higher pay.

Dean Purdy, spokesperson for B.C. Government and Service Employees' Union, says the province is short dozens of sheriffs compared to 10 years ago, but he's hopeful the new NDP government is taking their concerns seriously.

"The number of sheriffs in the province is 421 currently, where 10 years ago there were approximately 500 sheriffs, so there’s a lot of work to do for the government," Purdy says. "I think their intention is to definitely hire more sheriffs."

The severity of the sheriff shortage in the province came to light earlier this year after two drug dealers walked free due to a lack of sheriffs available to monitor the courtrooms.

He says many sheriffs are leaving their jobs at the courthouse to move into policing, whether it is with RCMP or a municipal police force.

"You can’t blame them for leaving for greener pastures, like police and like Alberta Sheriffs," Purdy says, pointing out that deputy sheriffs in Alberta make more than $10,000 more annually than B.C. Sheriffs.

According to Purdy, B.C. Sheriffs make on average approximately $57,000 per year, which makes the salaries of RCMP and municipal police officers enviable. 

"We are going to continue to have problems with recruitment and retention, and they can hire all the sheriffs they want, but they will continue to leave because in Victoria, in the Lower Mainland, in Kamloops, in Kelowna, Prince George... because of the cost of living they can’t make a go of it."

He says the union has met with B.C. Attorney General David Eby to discuss the issues within B.C. Sheriffs, and he's hopeful the new government will do what they can to mitigate the wage gap between deputy sheriffs and police officers.

Purdy says the union sampled 10 municipal police force wages on Vancouver Island and in the Lower Mainland and found the average to be approximately $93,000 per year. iNFOnews.ca has not confirmed this number.

"We’re not saying they need to be paid $93,000 or the same as the police, but they need to close that gap," he says.

"They will continue to lose sheriffs who will leave for the police, and you can’t blame them. It’s just common sense for a sheriff, they’re highly trained peace officers who only need a little bit more training to become a fulltime police officer."

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