RCMP to close labs in Halifax, Winnipeg, Regina
Forensic laboratories in Edmonton, Vancouver and Ottawa will be expanded
Posted: May 25, 2012 1:41 PM ET
Last Updated: May 25, 2012 7:37 PM ET
The RCMP is closing forensic laboratories in Halifax, Winnipeg and Regina and consolidating them with three others in a bid to save money and produce more efficient results.
The move to consolidate the Mounties' forensic services at laboratories in Edmonton, Vancouver and Ottawa has surprised some provinces and lawyers.
But RCMP Assistant Commissioner Peter Henschel said the move will result in a more efficient service for the Mounties, municipal police and other agencies that depend on the forensic labs.The RCMP is closing its forensic laboratory in Halifax, as well as labs in Regina and Winnipeg, and consolidating forensic services in Edmonton, Vancouver and Ottawa. (CBC)
Henschel offered the example of a firearm that needs ballistic and DNA testing.
"You'll have those two services at the same site [after the consolidation] so you can conduct everything that needs to be done on that exhibit at one site and doesn't mean having to ship it from one site to another, as may have happened with the six-site model," Henschel said.
Currently, the six labs specialize in different areas, such as toxicology, blood-spatter analysis and counterfeiting.
A Public Safety spokesperson said streamlining the lab services follows the auditor general's 2010 recommendation for a more efficient system and will help reduce a backlog in forensic tests.
It is expected the move will also save $3.5 million and will reduce redundancy and infrastructure costs such as building maintenance.
Concerns about regional impact
In Nova Scotia, a spokesman for the province's Department of Justice said the province was not consulted on the decision.
"We are just learning about this decision," said Dan Harrison. "Our concerns are two-fold. First, and foremost, is for the staff and families in Halifax who received this news today. Second, the department is concerned about any potential negative impact this has for Nova Scotia's justice system. We hope there are none."
Josh Arnold, president of the Nova Scotia Criminal Lawyers Association, said he was concerned about the impact the Halifax lab's closing would have on criminal trials.
"Justice delayed is justice denied. An accused person is constitutionally entitled to a trial within a reasonable period of time," Arnold said. "Generally any delay in bringing a matter to trial due to a lack of police resources falls at the feet of the Crown.
"Anyone involved in the criminal justice system in Nova Scotia should be concerned."
But the RCMP's Henschel said the three facilities will be closed one at a time to ensure the least amount of disruption. Equipment will be moved and roughly 70 scientists and technicians will be offered transfers.
Abe Townsend, an executive member of the RCMP's staff relations program, says his group will be keeping a close eye on how it all unfolds.
"It's our hope these type of adjustments to our service delivery model will not affect, negatively affect the timelines in relation to getting analysis out the door."
Regina-area Liberal MP Ralph Goodale said it was a loss for the regions, "Not to mention the loss of some 30 excellent technical jobs in Regina and the wasteful conversion of a state-of-the-art forensic lab into an office building."
Canada's first forensic lab was established by the RCMP in Regina in 1937. Since then its experts in ballistics, counterfeiting, biology and DNA have helped Mounties, municipal police forces and other agencies solve crimes.
Like many other government departments, the recent federal budget dealt a blow to the RCMP, cutting $192 million from the force's annual budget.with files from Alison Crawford
- Storify'd: Rae's surprise resignation prompts outpouring on twitter by Kady O'Malley Jun. 19, 2013 5:42 PM Soon to be former House colleagues from both sides of the aisle pay tribute to departing Liberal MP
Top News Headlines
- Top court to reveal if it will hear Rob Ford conflict appeal
- The Supreme Court of Canada will reveal today if it will hear an appeal in a conflict of interest challenge that previously threatened to oust Toronto Mayor Rob Ford from office. more »
- Secret tax-haven files lift veil on $32M Ontario fraud
- Bulletproof cars, Caribbean intrigue, financial finagling — the tale of swindler Peter Sabourin has it all. And finally, the full story can be told, thanks to the recent massive leak of offshore records. more »
- A Pope with a plan? Francis's first 100 days
- In his first 100 days in office, Pope Francis has largely kept his powder dry and focused on being more of a pastoral pontiff, David Perlich writes. But some recent casual comments make it clear he's holding a fuse for Vatican reform. more »
- Brian Stewart: Forget the cynics, why the Taliban might just want peace
- One big reason, Brian Stewart writes, is the growing strength of the Afghan army. Without the U.S. and its media around to report on the fighting, the next phase in this conflict could get a whole lot bloodier. more »
Latest Politics News Headlines
- Canada joining Brazilian-led peacekeeping mission in Haiti
- A small platoon of Canadian troops are about to join a peacekeeping operation in Haiti under the command of Brazilian forces, in a long-delayed mission that has been kept inexplicably low on the political radar. more »
- MPs take stock as they wrap up Commons' spring sitting
- The NDP and Liberals held their final caucus meetings today before the summer break and Conservative House leader Peter Van Loan is holding a news conference to highlight what got accomplished in the last few months. more »
- Tory MP fined $155 for driving through Hill security stop
- Less than a week after Tories attacked NDP Leader Tom Mulcair for failing to stop for the RCMP on Parliament Hill, Conservative MP Eve Adams was caught and fined by security for reportedly talking on her cellphone as she drove through a checkpoint. more »
- Wearing a mask at a riot is now a crime
- The bill that bans the wearing of masks or disguises during a riot or unlawful assembly became one of Canada's newest laws today. more »
- Senator Tkachuk defends secretive committee's work Jun. 15, 2013 8:03 AM This week on The House, we ask Senator David Tkachuk about Mac Harb taking the Senate to court and Pamela Wallin's explanation for her expenses problems. Plus, National Chief of the Assembly of First Nations Shawn Atleo has strong words for the Harper government's approach to First Nations issues. The Aboriginal Affairs Minister Bernard Valcourt is here to respond.
- Sopranos star James Gandolfini dies in Italy
- Wearing a mask at a riot is now a crime
- Dozens of children seized from Manitoba Mennonite community
- B.C. teacher duct-taped students' mouths
- B.C. First Nation sets fires to save bison
- Richmond widow racks up $1,800 hospital parking bill
- Obesity now recognized as a disease
- Bob Rae quits as MP in 'very emotional' decision
- Hail, flash floods hit southeast Alberta