Funding shortfall a concern for local victim services program

The Town of Osoyoos will be looking for a little help administering its Victim Services program after it determined funding provided by the province for 2016-17 will leave it with a program shortfall.

Janette Van Vianen, the Town’s Director of Corporate Services, reported provincial funding for the 2016/17 term was altered to cover a 16-month period rather than the current 12-months.

“With the changes to the program funding, staff were required to completely review and revamp the budget figures,” Van Vianen reported at Monday afternoon’s Council meeting.

“It is apparent from this review that the funding from the Province for this program is completely inadequate.”

The Town received $35,560 in 2015 to fund the program; it will receive $47,936 for the 2016-17 term.

“The funding allotted for the next term does not provide for any more hours for the Program Manager,” Van Vianen said.

“She currently is only funded to work 18 hours per week, which is not sufficient for the service area . . . (and) to cover her time to attend court in Penticton with victims.”

Town administration recommended several options for Council to consider to deal with the funding shortfall, including administering the program through July 2017 and advising the province it would not be interested in administering the program after that date.

Council agreed that was the best route forward but instructed administration to also work with the Regional District of Okanagan-Similkameen to develop a funding model that would bring dollars from the Regional District. If necessary, the RDOS would also be asked to provide resources to administer the program.

Councilor Jim King said he preferred approaching the RDOS and asking it to “support the program with cash dollars” rather than just turning program administration over to RDOS staff.

“If all the other communities are thinking the same way we are (asking the RDOS to take responsibility), we’re going to lose the program we have now,” he explained.

The Town of Osoyoos has administered the Victim Services Program for Osoyoos since 2005. Besides delivering administrative services, the Town also provides WCB coverage, liability coverage, and allows the Program Manager to purchase benefits from the Town under her employment contract. Local RCMP supervises the Program Manager and works with her to determine what services are provided to victims.

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